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Archidona (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-16 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Archidona

The municipality of Archidona (8,490 inhabitants in 2015, 18,559 ha) is located 50 km north-east of Málaga. The municipality is made of the town of Archidona and of the villages of Salinas (911 inh.), Estación de Archidona (185 inh.) and Huertas del Río (215 inh.).

Archidona was founded by the Phoenicians, as a fortified town named Escua / Oscua (The Main Head). The Romans renamed the town Arcis Domina (The Lord of the Heights) and incorporated it into Conventus Astigitanus, a subdivision of the Province of Hispania Baetica. Destroyed by the Vandals, the town does not appear to have been rebuilt until the Muslim period.
Known as Medina Arxiduna / Arxiduna / Hadhira Arxiduna, the town was the capital of the Cora of Rayya, a Muslim administrative division matching more or less the today's Province of Málaga. Abderramán II was proclaimed the first Emir of Córdoba in Archidona in 756. The Muladi Omar ibn Hafsún seized the town several times, being eventually expelled in 907 by Abderramán III. Archidona was ruined once again in the 11th century during the struggle between the local kingdoms (taifas) that had succeeded the Caliphate.
Archidona re-emerged in 1238 after incorporation into the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. The Christian reconquest in 1410 of the neighbouring town of Antequera prompted several inhabitants of that town to move to Archidona, which was under permanent threat of Christian raids.

After several failed attempts, Pedro Girón, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava and Count of Osuna, seized Archidona in 1462. His son, Alonso Téllez Girón, was granted the town the next year by King Henry IV. Located close to the border, Archidona was used as a base for the next Christian conquests, especially the Vélez-Málaga campaign led by Ferdinand the Catholic.
In the 16th century, the town developed out of the original, fortified city, known as Villa Alta (Upper Town); the Lower Town (Villa Alba) co-existed for a while with the old town.
[Francisco Miguel Merino Laguna. Historia de Archidona]

Ivan Sache, 15 September 2016

Symbols of Archidona

The flag of Archidona is prescribed by Decree No. 65, adopted on 9 April 1986 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 9 May 1986 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 40, p. 1,452 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, like the traditional flags. Per pale vert and white, charged with the local coat of arms.

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed flag, whose proportions and general design were deemed compliant with the general norms of vexillology.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 1986. 183:2, 318]

The exact design of the flag cannot be guessed from the official description. A photo provides evidence that the coat of arms is fully enclosed in the white stripe, whose length cannot be guessed since the green stripe is concealed. The coat of arms is not the "rehabilitated", historical coat of arms but a simplified version.

The coat of arms of Archidona, submitted on 31 December 2004 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 31 January 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 31 January 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 20, pp. 28-29 (text).
The coat of arms, "represented in traditional shape according to the use and customs", is described as follows:

Coat of arms: On a field gules a castle argent at its gate a dame sitting, with crowned head, clad as of the time, a ruff around the neck, a flowery cloak and an armour azure embossed or, covering her breasts and arms. On the chest of the woman, the arms of the second generation of the Girón. In her dexter hand a sword drawn like a spear, in her sinister hand a bunch of wheat spikes. In the chief's canton sinister a sun with human face.
The dame and the castle represented in perspective in a rural setting that covers the shield's base, made of a wide strip of land in green tones and of a lower stripe, representing water, in blue, much narrower.
The shield surmounted by an open crown [description skipped].

A completely different coat of arms has been reported by several authors since the 18th century.
Juan Antonio Estrada Paredes, in Poblacion General de España, sus Reynos y Provincias, cuidades, villas y pueblos, islas adjacentes y Presidios de Africa, published in 1746, writes that Archidona uses "three gyrons and a horse's head on a field azure. Conquered from the Moors by Pedro Girón XXVIII, Master of Calatrava, in 1462 and transferred to the Royal Crown, under the reign of Henry IV." The gyrons are taken from the canting arms of Girón. The origin of the horse's head is not explained; it was further used, in 1562, by Pedro Tŕllez Girón, in his arms as the Duke of Osuna.
Antonio de Moya, in Rasgo Heroyco..., published in 1756, writes that Archidona uses "azure a horse's head, a hieroglyph derived from the emblem of the Carthaginians who fiercely struggled against the Roman Republic". This was subsequently "augmented with three gyrons or"; a copy, uncredited, of Estrada's historical account follows.
Pascal Madoz, in his Diccionario, published in 1845-1850, simply writes that Archidona uses "three gyrons and a horse's head on a field azure", without giving more explanation.
Francisco Piferrer, in Trofeo heroic. Armas, Emblemas y Balsones de las Provincias y principales ciudades y villas de España, published in 1860, sticks to Moya's Carthaginian explanation, describing the arms as "Per fess, 1. A horse's head, arms of the ancient Carthaginians, 2. Three gyrons, arms of the House of Girón."
Antonio Guzmán Muñoz and José Supervielle de Andrade, authors of the Guia de Málaga y su Provincia, published in 1907, state that "the Catholic Monarchs granted arms made of three gyrons and a horse's head on a field azure". Without any official status, this guide is a compilation of the knowledge of the time; there is no historical evidence of a grant of arms by the Catholic Monarchs to Archidona.
The Espasa-Calpe encyclopaedia, Volume 5, published in 1930, does not describe the arms but show them, as "Per pale, 1. Azure a horse's head, 2. Or three gyrons gules".

However, this coat of arms is of "modern" creation. Older sources show the genuine coat of arms of Archidona; it is perfectly reproduced on the Charters signed on 5 January 1581 by Philip II and in 1624 by Philip IV to confirm the privileges granted to the town by Henry IV. There is no historical documentation supporting a substitution of the genuine arms by the gyronny arms.
On 9 April 1878, Francisco Checa y Checa, Mayor of Archidona, answered the survey of municipal arms organized by the central authorities. The municipality used a seal featuring a castle, at its gate a sitting woman wearing a ruff around the neck, crowned, holding in the dexter hand a drawn sword and in the sinister hand a bunch of wheat spikes. In the chief's canton sinister a sun. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open. The Mayor wrote that the seal had been used since 1862, replacing a similar one featured on the Charter granted in 1579 [indeed, 1581] by Philip II. He did not mention the gyronny arms, which indicates that that design was locally unknown at the time. IT is probable that the gyronny arms were never official in Archidona and were never used by the municipality.

On the genuine arms of Archidona, the dame beers on her chest a shield of the arms of Girón, featuring the three gyrons granted by Alfonso VI to the founder of the lineage and the castle and lion granted by Henry IV to Pedro Girón in 1464. The horse's head that appears on later arms of the lineage was, most probably, used to crown the shield and not as a charge. An heraldist probably once substituted the horse's head to the castle and lion, not earlier than 1562, when Pedro Téllez Girón y de la Cueva, 5th Count of Ureña and lord of Archidona, was made Duke of Osuna. Never officially used by the municipality of Archidona, the new design was, however, widely spread by the aforementioned authors, who mistook the arms of Girón for the municipal arms of Archidona.
[Jaime Rodríguez Barroso. Sobre el escudo heráldico de "Archidona". Isla de Arriarán. 2002. 19, 305-309]

The arms of the second generation of the Girón are shown on the facade of the Town Hall of Archidona.
[Narciso Morales Luque. Apostillas al escudo de Archidona. Isla de Arriarán. 2002. 20, 163-169]

Ivan Sache, 15 September 2016