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Cercedilla (Municipality, Community of Madrid, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-02-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Cercedilla - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 July 2015

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Presentation of Cercedilla

The municipality of Cercedilla (6,831 inhabitants in 2014; 3,580 ha; municipal website) is located in the north-west of the Community of Madrid, on the border with Castilla y León (Province of Segovia), 60 km of Madrid and 30 km of Segovia.

Cercedilla is crossed by the best preserved part of a Roman road connecting Segovia and Titulcia, built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. The place was permanently settled in the 14th century; located on the road to the Pass of Fuenfría, Cercedilla was a main stop for the Royal conveys heading to the Palace of La Granja, located in Valsaín, on the northern slope of the mountains. The building of a new road through the Pass of Navacerrada caused the decline of Cercedilla.

The influential pedagogist Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1839-1915), founder in 1875 of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, organized in July 1883 the first pedagogic excursion in the Sierra del Guadarrama, starting form the railway station of Villalba; the record of the excursion, published in the Boletín de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza is considered as the origin of guadarramismo, and, more generally, of the establishment of a new perception by man of the natural environment. The second excursion started form the railway station of Cercedilla, inaugurated in 1888; Cercedilla became a main center of hiking and mountain-climbing, while noted people from Madrid used to spend summer vacation there, such as the neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934; Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, 1906), the painters Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923, died in Cercedilla) and José Bardasano Baos (1910-1979), and the poet Luis Rosales Camacho (1910-1992; Cervantes Prize, 1982).
King Alfonso XIII inaugurated in 1923 a narrow-gauge line connecting Cercedilla to the Pass of Navacerrada, which increased even more summer and winter tourism in the town.

Cercedilla is one of the cradles of alpine skiing in Spain, being the proud birth place of 29 national champions. The "Preferred Son" of Cercadilla is the alpine skier Francisco "Paquito" Fernández Ochoa, who was born in Madrid but spent most of his life in Cercedilla. Paquito caused a big surprise in the Sapporo Winter Olympiad (1972), winning on 13 February the gold medal in slalom, being at the time the third Spanish gold medalist in Olympic Games, and still the only Spanish gold medalist in Winter Games.
On 28 October 2006, Cercedilla paid tribute to very sick Paquito, who inaugurated a statue portraying him on the Sapporo podium, in the presence of Infantes Elena and Cristina. The emotional celebration was most appropriate, since Paquito would decease nine days later.
[Nevasport, 15 November 2006]

Ivan Sache, 4 July 2015

Symbols of Cercedilla

The flag (photo, photos, photo, photo) of Cercedilla is vertically divided (1:2), green next to the hoist with seven white triangles (representing the mountain of the Seven Peaks), the fly white, with the municipal coat of arms.
The flag was hoisted over the Town Hall on 20 January 1992; the symbols were not officially approved.
[Tomás Rodríguez Peñas & Jorge Hurtado Maqueda, Vexilología municipal: Madrid [r2h94], Banderas [ban], No. 51, June 1994]

The Royal Academy of History rejected the proposed arms, which are "a shield-shaped drawing featuring a landscape aimed more at tourism promotion than being a proper coat of arms", "in use for some 50 years". No description was provided, the design being indeed unsuitable for heraldic description and including unacceptable characteristics, such as the odd shape of the shield, the whimsical coronet, vegetal branches, a motto... The submitted file includes a suggestion by the Assessor's Commission of the Community of Madrid to adapt the old design to the norms of heraldry: "Argent a tree vert a chief embattled azure. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown." The Commission proposed a flag deemed "very adequate" by the Academy. On this design, the seven triangles do not recall, as alleged, the Seven Peaks' Mountain but the well-known, canting arms of the Acuña (lit., "wedge") family.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 1993, 190, 1: 164]

The westernmost and highest of the Seven Peaks is Pico Majalasna (1,933 m). The engineer and geographer Juan López (1859-1936) gave names to the peaks for members of his family, himself included, ignoring Pico Majalasna, which he considered as not part of the massif of the "Six Peaks":
- Pico de Tomás López (for Carlos III's cartographer);
- Pico de Benito López (for a cartographer);
- Pico de Francisco López (for a geographer);
- Pico de Nemesio López (for a medical doctor at the Court);
- Pico de Juan López (for himself);
- Pico de Nemesio López (for a geographer and meteorologist).
However, these names fell into oblivion; the peaks eastwards of Pico Majalasna are simply known as the 2nd to the 7th peak.
[Cuarzo, Feldespato y Mica blog, 23 September 2009]

Jose Antonio Jiménez Ruiz & Ivan Sache, 4 July 2015