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Castellar de la Frontera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Castellar de la Frontera - Image from the Símbolos de Cadíz website, 5 May 2014

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Presentation of Castellar de la Frontera

The municipality of Castellar de la Frontera (3,123 inhabitants in 2013; 17,884 ha; municipal website) is located 140 km south-east of Cádiz. The municipality is made of three villages, Castellar Viejo (Old Castellar), Castellar Nuevo (New Castellar), and Almoraima.

Castellar Nuevo was built 8 km from the old village by the Institute for Agricultural Reform and Development, as part of the Development Plan of the Gibraltar Plain. In 1968, 700 ha of land, once owned by the Dukes of Medinaceli, were expropriated from the La Almoraima SA company. The first colonists, mostly coming from Castellar Viejo, inaugurated the new village in 1971.
Almoraima emerged around a small tower manned by a reduced garrison, aimed at watching and signalling potential invadors. The convent of San Miguel de La Almoraima was established in 1603 by Beatriz Ramírez de Mendoza, Countess of Castellar, for Friar John the Baptist, who founded there the Mercedarian Recollects, later known as Discalced Mercedarians, a semi-autonomous branch of the Mercedarian Order. Abandoned in 1839, the convent was purchased in 1861 by the Duke of Medinaceli, who transformed it into a hunting lodge highly prized by the Royal Court. Queen Consort Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (1887-1969) particularly enjoyed the place.
A halt on the Algeciras-Bobadilla railway was built in 1982. Originally used exclusively by the Duke and his guests, the halt became the Almoraima station, serving Castellar Nuevo. The Almoraima Cork Company, established in 1945, was the main source of income for the municipality. Several building sheds were erected near the site of cork processing. In 1962, the owners of the company built houses for their employees, but most of the 1,500 inhabitants of the village still lived in sheds and huts. Several of them moved to Castellar Nueov, etablished only 1 km away, leaving only 105 inhabitants (2009) in Almoraima.

Ivan Sache, 28 March 2014

Symbols of Castellar de la Frontera

The banner and arms of Castellar de la Frontera, adopted on 18 December 1990 by the Municipal Council and revised on 26 March 1992, as suggested on 20 December 1991 by the Royal Academy of History, are prescribed by Decree No. 137, adopted on 28 July 1992 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 19 September 1992 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 92, p. 7,954 (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 symbols are described as follows:

Banner: White, charged in the centered with the crowned municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Argent three fesses checky or and gules superimposed with a bar or, 2. Gules a castle or port and windows azure. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown.

The second quarter of the arms recalls the connection of the town with the Saavedra lineage since the reconquest from the Moors in the 15th century. The town was re-conquered from the Moors in 1434 by Gonzalo Arias de Saavedra, on behalf of his brother Juan Arias de Saavedra, Mayor of Jimena. He was made Count of Castellar on 7 September 1445 by King John II.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Cádiz (PDF file)]

The Saavedra lineage is of Galician origin; the tradition says that the family descends from the Roman Emperor Caligula. The lineage subsequently spread to whole Spain. José Saavedra was made Marquis of Rivas in 1641; Juan Martín Pérez de Saavedra y Ramírez de Madrid, 6th Marquis of Rivas, was made Duke of Rivas in 1792. Juan Arias de Saavedra y Alvarado was made Marquis of Moscoso in 1697. Candelaria Saavedra y Ramírez de Baquedano was made Viscountess of Mamblas in 1854.
The arms of Saavedra are "Argent three fesses checky or and gules superimposed with a bar or, a bordure gules charged with eight saltires or".
[Heraldica Saraif]

The Municipal Council submitted in the 1970s other arms, "Gules a castle or port and windows azure. The shield surmounted by a Count's coronet". The Royal Academy of History rejected the use of a Count's coronet over the shield and pointed out that too many municipal councils already used a castle on their arms. Accordingly, the Academy suggested an amended coat of arms, "Per fess, 1. Azure a crown or set with gems and surmounted by 18 pearls on points, 2. Gules a castle or port and windows azure. The shield surmounted with the Royal crown closed."
[Boletín de la Real Academia de Historia 1980, 177: 1, 794]

There exists a seal (print from 1876), displaying just a castle with the writing "Ayuntamiento de Castellar". Though the tinctures were absolutely unknown, in 1954, Julio Atienza, Baron of Cobos, described the seal as "red, a golden castle part and windows blue". As sources about the town are very rare, the castle was misinterpreted as a two level tower. Referring to the Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española, which describes castillar as lugar del castillo (a place with a castle), the arms were considered to be canting.
[José Antonio Delgado y Orellana. Heráldica Municipal de la Provincia de Cádiz]

Klaus-Michael Schneider & Ivan Sache, 6 May 2014