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Loeches (Municipality, Community of Madrid, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Loeches - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2015

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Presentation of Loeches

The municipality of Loeches (8,159 inhabitants in 2014; 4,410 ha; municipal website) is located in the east of the Community of Madrid, 30 km of Madrid.

Loeches was first mentioned in the 12th century; according to Madoz, the name of the town is of Basque origin, formed on lo ("to sleep") and etxe ("casa"). Incorporated by Bernardo Jiménez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo to the Alfoz Complutense, Loeches was one of the 25 villages placed directly under the jurisdiction of Alcalá de Henares.
Loeches was granted the status of villa in 1555 by King Charles I. Philip II sold the town to the Genoese banker Baltasar Catanno, who soon transferred it to the Cárdenas-Avellaneda family. The Cárdenas established in 1596 the Carmelite convent of St. Ignatius Martyr. Infante Maria Therese, Philip IV's daughter, was named for the Carmelite saint, upon intercession of the Loeches nuns, who would educate her. The monastery keeps a letter written by St. Theresa and a reliquary dated 1590, which belonged to Philip III and was offered to the monastery by Philip IV.

In 1633, Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel Ribera y Velasco de Tovar (1587-1645), Count-Duke of Olivares and Prime Minister from 1621 to 1643, acquired Loeches. Since he could not obtain the rule over the Carmelite monastery, as he had expected, he commissioned the architect Alonso Carbonel to design the Immaculate Conception monastery, who was erected in front of the Carmelite monastery on the model of the Royal Incarnation monastery in Madrid. Retired in 1643 in Loeches, Olivares attempted to transform the neighbouring mountains in a hunting estate; upset by the opposition of the inhabitants and pushed further away from the Court by his enemies, he moved two years later to Toro (Province of Zamora, Castile and León), where he died.
In 1909, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, Duke of Alba de Tormes and Count-Duke of Olivares, appended the Pantheon of the Alba family close to the monastery; designed by Juan Bautista Lázaro, the chapel was modelled on the pantheon of El Escorial. The masterpiece in the chapel is the mausoleum of Francisca de Sales y Portocarrero, Countess of Montijo and daughter of Eugenia de Montijo, Empress of the French, made by Charles-Alphonse-Achille Gumery.

Ivan Sache, 11 July 2015

Symbols of Loeches

The flag (photos, photo) is dark red with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. The flag does not appear to have been officially approved.

The coat of arms of Loeches is prescribed by Royal Decree No. 3,298, adopted on 13 November 1981 and published on 12 January 1982 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 10, p. 684 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Quarterly per saltire, 1. and 4. Azure a cauldron checky gules and or each hand with seven snake's head vert, 2. and 3. Argent five ermine spots sable, a bordure compony Castile and León of 16 pieces gules a castle or ports and windows azure and argent a lion gules crowned or. Inescutcheon azure a water spring argent on waves argent and azure. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The coat of arms is made of the arms of the Count-Duke of Olivares charged with an escutcheon representing the healing water that made the fame of Loeches for more than one century. There were two spas in the town, La Maravilla, located near the palace of the Count-Duke, and La Margarita, the oldest one, where the healing properties of the water were discovered.
The La Margarita water was found on a 13 ha plot owned by the García- Orea, a family from Toledo established in Loeches. In 1851, Gregorio García-Orea attempted to establish a brickyard; he dug a well to get the required water, who proved to be detrimental to brick production because of its high concentration in different salts. Accordingly, he established in 1853 a spa, directed by Dr. Manuel González de Jonte (1827-1867), considered by some to have been as influent as Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934; Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, 1906). Some shareholders of the spa settled in Loeches, for instance, Andrés Arango y Castillo (1773-1865), a noted soldier coming back from Cuba, who purchased several properties in the town and funded charities. Other significant shareholders were the Marquis of Linares (1833-1902) and his father, and Manuel Codorniú (1788-1857), who is believed to have brought Masonic influence to the spa.
The spa became so famous that customers were brought from Madrid and Alcalá de Henares by stagecoaches. The spa was operated until 1920, when purchased by the Chávarri family, owner of the Aguas de Carabaña company, and transformed into a farm.
[La Voz de Henares, 18 September 2012]

Ivan Sache, 11 July 2015