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Aroche (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-07 by ivan sache
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Flag of Aroche - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 17 August 2016

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Presentation of Aroche

The municipality of Aroche (3,214 inhabitants in 2008; 49,900 ha; municipal website) is located 130 km north of Huelva.

Aroche is located near the site of the Roman town of Turobriga, founded under Nero (1st century) and abandoned in the 3rd century. Remains of the forum (50 m x 40 m), of thermae, of houses and of a possible military esplanade have been excavated.
The castle of Aroche was built by the Moors in the 11-12th centuries. Commissioned by the Kings of Portugal, the Knights of the Order of St. John reconquered the town in 1251. In 1267, the Treaty of Badajoz signed by King of Portugal Alfonso III and King of Castile Alfonso X set up river Guadiana as the border between the two kingdoms, so that the fortified towns of Aroche and Aracena were incorporated to Castile. However, the King of Portugal seized in 1293 the towns of Moura, Serpa, Noudar, Aroche and Aracena; the two latter towns were eventually reincorporated to Castile in 1297 by the Treaty of Alcañices. Aroche was severely damaged during the War of Portuguese Restoration (1640-1668), with the suppression of one of the three town gates that support the fortress. A bullring was built inside the walls of the fortress in 1804, therefore one of the oldest in Andalusia. The restoration of the fortress, partially ruined, has started in 2003.

Ivan Sache, 19 July 2009

Symbols of Aroche

The flag of Aroche, adopted on 31 March 2005 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 16 June 2005 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed a Decree adopted on 23 June 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 8 July 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 132, pp. 66-67 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 11:18, made of five stripes parallel to each other and to the hoist, the first, third and fifth red and the second and the fourth white; a blue stripe from the upper left to the lower right angle. Centered and overall the local coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Aroche is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 19 March 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 1 April 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 64, p. 8,034 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Used following customs since the 15th century with the following description: Argent fimbriated or a donjon tower proper flanked in its lower body by two lions rampant gules langued and crowned or leaning on its walls and in its upper body by two escutcheons argent fimbriated or with three pallets gules charged with a bend azure. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown open.

A red-waxed seal dated 1491 and inscribed Sigillvm Concilii Arochensis is kept in Juan Infante Galan collection. The seal features a three-part castle ensigned with three spheres of decreasing size. The lower storey of the castle, crenelated, has several windows, while the central donjon is made of two parts, the upper one with a single window. The lower part of the donjon is surrounded by two lions rampant leaning two legs to the tower and by two bendy shields. Forgotten for long, these arms were saved from oblivion in the 1950s by José de Rjula, 8th Marquis of Ciadoncha, member of a famous lineage of Royal Kings of Arms; the heraldist designed a French shield with a fimbriation and added pallets. In more modern representations, the pallets gules were charged with a bend azure.
On 17 August 1996, Juan José Antequera proposed a "rehabilitation" of the old arms, "Argent a tower azure its lower part crenelated and its upper part surmounted by a lantern with hemispheric roof and ensigned by three balls of decreasing size, port and windows or, the lower part surrounded by two lions rampant gules and the upper part by two escutcheons gules a bend or. The shield surmounted by a royal crown closed". Antequera also proposed a rectangular flag, in proportions 11:18, horizontally divided red-blue-yellow (3:3:2) and charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms. A banner (pendón) was also proposed, considering probable that the town, once a Royal domain and a military stronghold, used a specific banner in the numerous battles fought on its territory or near its walls. Lacking any historical evidence, the author designed a banner of arms based on the medieval seal: the rounded-off banner, in proportions 11:18, is argent with the elements of the coat of arms described above. Due to "municipal inaction", the proposed symbols remained unpublished.

The tower represents the castle of Las Arenas, of probable Almoravid origin and rebuilt in the 13th century, which was a main element of the defence of the Muslim possessions threatened by the Christian advance, and later on, defended by the Order of Saint John against the Portuguese threat.
The bendy shield might allude to the disappeared Order of the Bend or to an old custom dating back to the Crusades. Its origin, however, is unknown.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

The flag eventually adopted is a banner of arms of the escutcheons featured on the coat of arms.

Ivan Sache, 17 August 20116