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Vélez-Málaga (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2021-11-05 by ivan sache
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Flag of Vélez-Málaga - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 January 2017

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Presentation of Vélez-Málaga

The municipality of Vélez-Málaga (78,166 inhabitants in 2015, therefore the 4th most populated municipality in the province; 15,788 ha; municipal website), is located on the Costa del Sol, 40 km east of Málaga. The municipality is made of the town of Vélez-Málaga (39,139 inh.) and of the villages of Almayate (3,689 inh.), Benajarafe (3,110 inh.), Caleta de Vélez (3,615 inh.), Cajiz (809 inh.), Chilches (2,717 inh.), Lagos (768 inh.), Mezquitilla (288 inh.), Torre del Mar (21,759 inh.), Trapiche (379 inh.), Triana (984 inh.), and Valle-Niza.

Vélez-Málaga was established in the 10th century as a Muslim citadel. From the 13th to the 15th century, Vélez-Málaga was one of the most important fortified towns (medina) of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. The rural estates (alquerias) are the origin of the urban nuclei located out of the town, for instance, lmayate, Benamocarra, Benajarafe, Pedupel, Benadalid, Cajiz, Iberos, Iznate, Torrentes and Alcalaín. The town was described by several travellers of the time, such as Idrisi, Abulfeda, Ibn Battuta, and Abd-al-Basit. Ibn Asim (1358-1426) celebrated the local figs as "the best fruit from the best land and the sheerest welcome to the traveller".

Vélez surrendered to Ferdinand the Catholic on 27 April 1487; the king entered the town on 3 May through the Granada Gate and consecrated all its mosques. The expelled Muslims were allowed to leave with their goods, and were substituted by Christian colonists from Lower Andalusia, Extremadura, Murcia, and Castile. Most of the Muslims, however, stayed in the neighbouring estates, since the new rulers maintained the very productive agricultural system set up by the Nasrid. Attempt of confiscation of their lands by notables from Vélez initiated a long series of lawsuits in the late 15th century.
Most of the re-settlers of the town were soldiers, commissioned to watch the border with the Kingdom of Granada. During the share of the reconquerred lands, the land allocated to a soldier was thrice that allocated to a farmer; only one third of the expected 600 households, however, settled the area. Due to the lack of arable lands and pastures, a new share was made in 1495, facilitated by the incorporation of the territories of Bentomiz, Frigiliana, and Zulia.
In the aftermath of the mudéjar revolts in Nerja and Torrox, the king appointed in 1488 his uncle, Francisco Enríquez, Adelante Mayor of Andalusia, as the Alcalde of Vélez.

During the modern era, Vélez was the main economical center of the region. Harvests of grapes and citrus were shipped from Torre del Mar to northern Europe. The town declined in the 17th century, threatened by Turkish and Moorish raids. A network of watch towers was set up to secure the coast; the tower of Torre del Mar (lit., the Sea's Tower) was indirect communication with the watch tower of the fortress of Vélez. For a while, the town was the seat of the Coast General Captaincy, housed in the palace of the Marquis of Beniel.
In 1804, yellow fever killed more than half of the inhabitants of Vélez, the Municipal Council included; accordingly, the town was ran by Lieutenant Colonel Ignacio de Liaño. The French invasion and the establishment of an occupation garrison in the fortress split the population of the town into two camps, which struggled for the control of the town all along the 19th century.

Ivan Sache, 11 January 2017

Symbols of Vélez-Málaga

The banner (pendón) and arms of Vélez-Málaga, submitted on 29 June 2004 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 29 April 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 13 May 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 92, p.37 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Banner: Square banner of 157.5 cm x 157.5 cm in size, made of green fabric bordered by a strip of golden-threaded brocade on the three external sides. In the center, the municipal coat of arms surrounded by a similar strip of golden-threaded brocade.
Coat of arms: Inside, in the upper part of the shield, appears a sky vert, while its lower part and the central part of its flanks represent a field with vegetation vert. In the central part appears King Ferdinand the Catholic rising a sword in his right arm and riding a horse rampant brunČtre proper. The king appears with an armour and a saddle or, a coat of mail shadowed argent and sable, and a sword and shield argent. In the lower part of the horse, in the background, is represented Sebastián Fernández, the king's groom, laid down with trousers gules, a coat brunČtre and white hair. On his side appears another figure laid down, placing a hand on his head. In the dexter part of the shield, facing the horse, appears a Moor with a white turban, a breast-plate or, a shield azure and a coat of mail brunČtre pierced by a spear. Immediately on top of this is represented a Castilian soldier with an helmet and breast-plate argent and a shield gules. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open.

The shield represents the single direct fighting of the Granada War involving Ferdinand the Catholic, which happened in April 1487 during the siege of Vélez-Málaga; the Council of Vélez-Málaga petitioned to bear arms representing the scene, which was granted by a Royal Provision signed on 14 September 1499 in Granada by Isabel the Catholic.
The chroniclers of the Reconquest (Valera, Bernáldez, and the Marquis of Cádiz) identify the dead man as Nuño del Aguila, a mozo de espuelas and not a groom, The Marquis of Cádiz calls him trinchante de la Reina. Killed during the attack of the town, Nuño del Aguila was buried in a former mosque dedicated to St. Sebastian; his body was subsequently transferred to a chapel, today ruined. Pascual Madoz' dictionary has been propagating the erroneous identification proposed by the Municipal Secretary of the time, who claimed that the man was Sebastián Sánchez Pelao, a resettler of Vélez-Málaga.
[Municipal website; Municipal archives]

The original Royal Provision granting the arms of the town was restored in 2004 by the Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico (file).

The flag in regular, official use in Vélez-Málaga, is not the prescribed banner, but a rectangular, dark green flag charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms (photo).
The flag is also used with, the name of the town in golden capital letters, added in an arched pattern beneath the arms (photo, photo).

Ivan Sache, 11 January 2017