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Mula (Municipality, Region of Murcia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Mula - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015

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Presentation of Mula

The municipality of Mula (17,008 inhabitants in 2014; 63,338 ha; municipal website) is located in the center of the Region of Murcia, 35 km of Murcia.

Mula is famous for the Iberian archeological site of El Cigarralejo, discovered in 1945 by Emeterio Cuadrado Díaz (1907-2002). Born in Murcia, the civil engineer Emeterio Cuadrado supervized the building and the management of several canals in Murcia, Villareal and Álava. Appointed in 1944 Local Commissioner for Archeological Excavations in Cartagena, Cuadrado significantly contributed to the development of archeology in south-eastern Spain, promoting the establishment of the Cartagena Municipal Museum and the organization of local congresses, subsequently transformed into the National Archeology Congresses.
Cuadrado started in 1948 excavations in El Cigarralejo, which he would continue for the next 40 years, especially after his professional retirement in 1977, with the relentless support of his wife Rosario. Elected member of several foreign archeological societies, Cuadrado was awarded on 9 May 1985 the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Murcia.
Emeterio Cuadrado proposed on 1 June 1986 to donate all the material excavated from El Cigarralejo to the State and achieved his last field campaign in 1988. The Monographic Museum of Iberian Art "El Cigarraeljo" (blog) was established by Ministerial Order of 21 April 1989 and inaugurated on 11 May 1993; the museographic display was supervized by Cuadrado himself.

The El Cigarralejo complex, dated to the 5th-1st century BC, is considered as one of the most important Iberian sites in the Region of Murcia. It is located near Mula, stretching over 3,000 sq. m in a place colloquially known as "la Ciudad Perdida" (The Lost Town"). The complex is among the few ones whose three differentiate components could have been identified: a settlement, a sanctuary and a necropolis. The settlement was made of rectangular stone houses surrounded by a fortification. The necropolis covered 2,000 sq. m. Emeterio Cuadrado carefully excavated 547 tombs. The sanctuary was located on a secondary top of the La Piedra Plomera hill, dominating the right bank of river Mula. Cuadrado located the site by pure chance, after having found a fragment of ex-voto featuring a beheaded woman. In 1947, he found much more ex-votos in the "H-11" dwelling. Most of the artefacts represent horses equipped with a rich harness (presentation); ex-voto No. 19 (16 cm x 10.5 cm x 4.8 cm) is the model of the museum's logo.

Mula was one of the seven towns listed in the Treaty of Orihuela. Signed in 713, that is two years after the invasion of Spain by the Moors, by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz - the son of Musa ibn Nusair, governor of North Africa, and the Visigoth Count Theodemir (d. 743; in Arab, Tudmir); the treaty, aka Theodemir's Pact - placed the region under Muslim domination but the population was allowed to maintain the Christian religion, provided it paid a fee and did not support the enemies of the new rulers. Accordingly, the Visigoth province of Aurariola (Orihuela) was renamed Tudmir. Theodemir's Pact lists the towns of Ūriūla (Orihuela), Laqant (Alicante), Lūrqa (Lorca), Mūla (Mula), Bqsra (Begastro, today Cehegín), Bilāna (Villena), and Oyyoh / Iyyih (Ojós ).
After the Muslim invasion, Mula was transferred to a site easier to defend, probably in the 9th-10th century. In 1244, Infante Alfonso (later, King Alfonso X the Wise) reconquerred the town, which was made a Royal town by Ferdinand III's Córdoba Charter. In 1430, John II granted Mula to Alonso Yáñez Fajardo. After the fall of the Granada, Mula lost its strategic significance and the town developed in the valley, out of the walls. The town flourished in the 16th century but declined in the next century, especially after the epidemic of black plague (1648) that claimed half of the population of the town. The same year, the Child of Mula appeared to the shepherd Pedro Botía, boosting the religious activity in the town.
Mula blossomed again in the 19th century thanks to the new road linking Murcia to Caravaca de la Cruz and to the introduction of citrus cultivation, which progressively superseded the three traditional crops, olive, grapevine and mulberry. The irrigation system was improved with the building of the Cierva dam and the canalization of river Taibilla.

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015

Symbols of Mula

The flag of Mula is blue with the municipal coat of arms in the center (photo, photo).

In the program of the festivals to be held in 2002 in Mula, Juan Gutiérrez García gives a detailed account of the history of the arms of Mula (PDF).
The oldest documented arms of the town appear on a seal appended to a document sent in 1590 to the Mula Council. The shape of the shield is hardly visible but a three-towered castle standing on rocks can be identified. A parchment of the Municipality of Murcia from the early 17th century shows the coat of arms of Mula featuring a castle ensigned by an eagle and surrounded by two mules. Possibly apocryphal, this design was shown in Pascual Mádoz' dictionary (1856), in the Espasa encyclopaedia (1918) and in several regional publications until the 1950s.
In the 20th century, several artistic and administrative variations of the arms of Mula appeared, keeping, however, the mule, the castle and the eagle. All kinds of colours were used, without any identifiable pattern. There was also great creativity in the ornaments. Maurandi claimed that the genuine arms of Mula should be "Argent a central castle ensigned by an eagle, beneath, a mule. Orled by six towers on the flanks, a castle at the top and a fortified castle with towers at the bottom. The shield surmounted by a Marquis' coronet." This is the first documented design with the bordure charged with castles. The represented coronet is not a Marquis' and the design was succeeded by several other ones.

The coat of arms last used before the adoption of the official one is "A pointed shield, surmounted by a Royal crown and surrounded by lambrequins. A mule on a base and a castle ensigned by an eagle displayed". The arms seen on the facade of the Town Hall are "a shield of nearly rounded-off shape decorated with lambrequins and not crowned. On a field azure a white mule and a white castle port and windows azure. A bordure azure charged with six towers and a fortress at the bottom all white". The arms lack the eagle and the castle at the top of the bordure.
The sessions of the Municipal Council are presided by a banner charged with a shield of roundish shape, surmounted by a genuine Marquis' coronet, "Azure a mule sable on a base proper and a castle or".

The new coat of arms was published in the program of the 1983 festivals, stirring a controversy on the shape of the shield, the bordure and the crown. The design was eventually adopted on 28 September 1983.
The shield once appended to the facade of the old jail of Mula was most probably placed there in 1773, when the building was inaugurated, although it has been dated to the early 17th century. The crown is much deteriorated, but Acero described it as a Marquis' coronet. Another source is the drawing of the arms made in 1744 by Fernández Botella, with fanciful ornaments and crown; this was, beyond any reasonable doubt, the source used to design the new coat of arms. The Marquis' coronet was used because Mula belonged to the Marquis of Los Vélez until the end of the feudal system. According to older traditions, for instance the grant in 1245 of a seal and a banner to the town by Ferdinand III and the description of Mula in the General Chronicles of Alfonso X, the arms should be "of medieval shape and surmounted by a Royal crown open. Azure a castle or standing on rocks a mule sable on a base vert." Such a simple shield would reflect the village as it was after the Christian reconquest.
Finally, the author recommends to keep the modern coat of arms as it is, simply changing the Marquis' coronet to a Royal crown open.

The aforementioned oldest known coat of arms of Mula, dated to the 16th century, was purchased on 3 February 2009 by the municipality and transferred to the St. Francis convent. The stone coat of arms, originally located on the facade of the old jail of Mula, was registered as a Cultural Monument.
The oval shield features a castle surmounted by an eagle with spread wings; in front of the castle is a mule passant walking to the viewer's left. The bordure of the shield is charged with eight castles, representing the local nobility. The shield might have been surmounted by a Royal crown, today much disappeared, and surrounded by different ornaments.
The traditional explanation of the shield invokes the eagle as king of heavens and the castle of Mula as king of the castles.
[La Opinión de Murcia, 14 March 2009]

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015

Unofficial flag of Mula


Unofficial flag of Mula - Image by James Dignan, 22 July 2010

During the Tour de France 2010 was seen a white flag with a the coat of arms of Mula, underneath which the word "Mula", most probably a variant made by a supporter.
There is no doubt that the supported cyclist is Mula's local hero, Luis Léon Sánchez Gil (b. 1983), winner of Paris-Nice in 2009 and of the San Sebastián Classic in 2010 and 2012. Sánchez also won the Spanish National Time Trial Championships in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2010, he ranked 9th in the Tour of Spain and 10th in the Tour of France (the year the flag was spotted); he won four stages in the Tour of France in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

James Dignan & Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015