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Ciudad Rodrigo (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Ciudad Rodrigo - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 January 2014, coat of arms by "SanchoPanzaXXI" (Wikimedia Commons)

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Presentation of Ciudad Rodrigo

The municipality of Ciudad Rodrigo (13,646 inhabitants in 2012, therefore the 3rd most populous municipality in the province; 24,011 ha; municipal website, unofficial website) is located in the southwest of Salamanca Province, close to the borders with Portugal and Cáceres Province (Extremadura), 90 km from Salamanca.

Ciudad Rodrigo was the site of a castrum (fortified village) during the Age of Bronze, as evidenced by the so-called Ciudad Rodrigo idol, kept in the National Archeological Museum (Madrid). The place was probably also inhabited during the 2nd Age of Iron by the Vettones, as evidenced by verracos de piedras (stone statues representing boars) found there in the past, of which only one has been preserved.
The Romans settled Ciudad Rodrigo from the 1st to the 5th century. Several artifacts (coins, pottery pieces, engraved stones) indicate that the settlement was of significance. The three columns shown on the municipal coat of arms date back to that period, as well as a stone excavated near the columns, listing the limits between the towns of Bletisa (Ledesma), Salmantica (Salamanca) and Mirobriga (Ciudad Rodrigo, according to some historians). Nothing is known about the place during the upper Middle Ages; the lack of Visigothic remains seems to indicate that the town was either deserted or of very small size.

Ciudad Rodrigo was mentioned for the first time in 1136, as Civitatem de Rodric, alluding to a failed re-settlement of the town by a Count Rodrigo, commissioned by King Alfonso VI. A few decades later, King Fernando II made of Ciudad Rodrigo a stronghold watching the borders with the Moorish states and the emerging Kingdom of Portugal: the town was surrounded by thick walls, a bishopric was established (recognized in 1175 by the Holy See) and a charter was granted in 1185. The building of the cathedral and of several other religious and civil buildings was initiated at the time. Due to its strategic significance, the town was involved in the wars against Portugal and the civil wars that scoured Castile and León in the 13th-15th centuries.
Ciudad Rodrigo experienced its Gilded Age in the 15th-16th centuries. Most of the palaces, noble manors and religious buildings (the cathedral, the Cerralbo chapel, the Sts. Peter and Isidor church, the Town Hall, the castle, the Eagle's Manor, the Palace of the 1st Marquis of Cerralbo, the Hospital of the Passion) still visible in the downtown date back to that period. The downtown was proclaimed an Historical and Artistic Monument in 1944. The town wall, revamped in the 18th century for the sake of artillery, is more than 2 km in length and 13 m in height at some parts, and defended by seven gates; the wall is considered as one of the best preserved town fortifications in Spain.
The town was damaged again during the War of Portuguese Independence and the War of Succession of Austria. Seized by the Napoleonic troops in 1810 after a long siege, Ciudad Rodrigo was liberated by Lord Wellington on 19 January 1812; Wellington was rewarded by the Cádiz Cortes with the title of Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Ivan Sache, 16 January 2014

Symbols of Ciudad Rodrigo

The flag of Ciudad Rodrigo (photo) is purple with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The arms of Ciudad Rodrigo are "Azure three columns or. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown". The three columns' monument (photo), excavated in the 16th century, is the traditional emblem of the town.
The three columns are shown per fess on most representations of the coat of arms, including the one currently used by the municipality. However, the coat of arms used on the flag shows the columns 2 + 1, as does the coat of arms of the town used in the 1st quarter of the coat of arms of the Salamanca Province).

Ivan Sache, 16 January 2014