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Águilas (Municipality, Region of Murcia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Águilas - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 April 2015

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Presentation of Águilas

The municipality of Águilas (34,632 inhabitants in 2014; 25,177 ha; municipal website) is located in the extreme south-west of the Region of Murcia, on the border with Andalusia (Province of Almería), 110 km of Murcia and 75 km of Cartagena.

Águilas is considered by some historians as the site of the Roman town of Urci, one of the most affluent towns in Hispania. Several artefacts (pottery, coins, statues...) have been excavated in the town and its neighbourhood, indicating a local trading activity. Remains of workshops where amphoras and garum were manufactured are also shown in the town's Archeology Museum. During the Arab rule (10th-13th century), the port and the village were defended by the tower (hisn) of Al Aquila.
In the 16th-18th the port and the town were threatened by the Barbary pirates. The Cope Tower was erected in the late 16th century, the defence of the town being subsequently increased by the Castle of San Juan de las Águilas, erected in the middle 18th century and today the symbol of the town.

The Count of Aranda, Governor and Captain General of the Kingdom of Valencia, decided in 1765 to establish a new town, independent from Lorca. With the help of the Count of Floridablanca, Minister of King Charles III, Aranda founded a fortified town dedicated to maritime trade, surrounded by fertile fields and profusely supplied with freshwater. Inaugurated in 1766, Águilas quickly increased in significance, in spite of the rivalry with the neighbouring towns of Lorca and Vera. The municipality of Águilas was eventually established in 1834.
Águilas first lived from the sale of esparto and soda ash, exploiting the abundant local vegetation. In the middle of the 19th century, Águilas became the main port of export of iron and lead ore extracted in Lorca, in the north of the Province of Almería and in the Huescar-Baza area (Province of Granada). A dedicated wharf was built, as well as a railway connecting Águilas to Lorca and Baza. In the early 20th century, mining declined, superseded by foundry and industrial exploitation of esparto.

Ivan Sache, 23 April 2015

Symbols of Águilas

The flag of Águilas (photo, photo, photo, outdoors use; photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, indoors use) is prescribed by Decree No. 30, adopted on 5 April 2001 by the Government of the Region of Murcia and published on 12 April 2001 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 85, p. 5,824 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, divided in three equal horizontal stripes, the upper and the lower stripes, blue, and the middle stripe, white. In the center of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms, in size 25 cm x 12 cm. Dimensions: 2 m x 3 m, which are the most commonly used for such flags.

The coat of arms of Águilas is prescribed by Decree No. 29, adopted on 5 April 2001 by the Government of the Region of Murcia and published on 12 April 2001 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 85, pp. 5,823-5,824 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Shield in Spanish, pointed style. The first two thirds of the upper part argent. In the center of the field, in chief an eagle [águila] gray with spread wings, looking towards dexter. The last third, in base, azure (blue), representing the sea; in the center of the field emerging compact rocks proper surmounted by a castle brunČtre with gates of the same in a darker shade. The charges surrounded by interlaced wreaths of palm and laurel all vert (green). The shield surmounted with a Royal crown.

Águilas used different coat of arms all along its history. In late October 1873, the revolutionary Antonete Gálvez landed in Águilas from the ship Fernando el Católico, expecting to gain the population of the town to his Cantonalist movement. The Cartagena Canton had been proclaimed on 12 July 1873, as the revival of the old Kingdom of Murcia. Emancipated from the Spanish Republic, the Cartagena Canton would be the first step towards a Spanish federal state. Approached by the separatists, the US government declined the offer to establish an "American Gibraltar" in Cartagena. The Cartagena Canton was suppressed on 13 January 1874 after the victorious assault of the town by the governmental troops.
Upset by the lack of local support in Águilas, the Cantonalists sacked a few official buildings, looking for money and food. As a reprisal, they stole the coat of arms of the town. The municipality designed a new coat of arms the same year. The rectangular tower from the first design was replaced by a roundish tower, with the base wider than the top. The castle was ensigned by two eagles affronty and orled by two interlaced branches of laurel. This coat of arms was used on municipal documents until March 1878.
[Descumbriendo Murcia, 11 February 2013]

Ivan Sache, 23 April 2015