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Fuente de Piedra (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2022-09-09 by ivan sache
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Flag of Fuente de Piedra - Image from Símbolos de Málaga, 9 April 2022

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Presentation of Fuente de Piedra

The municipality of Fuente de Piedra (2,770 inhabitants in 2021; 9,014 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the province of Seville, 70 km north-west of Málaga and 25 km north-west of Antequera.

Fuente de Piedra was established in the 16th century, although the area was inhabited in the Roman times. A Roman altar kept in Antequera is engraved "FONTI . DIVINO . ARAM . L. POST HUMIUS . SATULIUS . EX. VOTO. D", being therefore an ex-voto offered by a Roman citizen after he had been healed by the water of the divine fountain. Several authors report the medicinal properties of the water, especially to dissolve kidney stones and heal bladder diseases. Renown, the water was used to fill bottles that were controlled by a bailiff, sealed by the parish priest and exported all over Spain and farther, up to Naples and the New World. In 1547, the Council of Antequera ordered the establishment of a settlement, named the Stone Fountain, near the fountain to accommodate the increasing number of purists.

The brackish lake of Fuente de Piedra (1,400 ha, also spreading on the municipal territories of Antequera and Campillos) is the most important breeding area of pink falmingoes in Iberia and the second most important in Europe. The numerous Roman remains found around the lake indicate exploitation of salterns. The salt was an important source of wealth to the point that it was used as a means of payment. Furthermore, the Romans considered the flamingo as an extraordinary culinary delicacy, especially its tongue, and included it amongst the most exquisite of dishes. The first attempts at draining the lake arrived at the beginning of the 19th century and a company was formed with that object but the Antequera town hall persuaded the king to paralyse the project. In 1876 a series of engineering projects were initiated with the aim of maintaining the water level and avoiding salt being washed away by storm water, all with the aim of exploiting the salterns. The lake bed was divided up by a series of dikes, canals and evaporating beds for condensing and crystalising the saline water, all these being necessary for exploitation as a salt works. All this work was aimed at favouring the salt production and in favourable years the lake could produce 20.000 cubic metres of salt.
Since 1958, different scientists, with José Antonio Valverde at their head, carried out a series of observations and studies of the flamingo breeding colony. In 1962, during the course of the First International Wetlands Conference and at the instance of the IUCN (International Union of the Conservation of Nature), the Fuente de Piedra lake was included in the list of wetlands in need of protection and efforts were made to change the then current view that wetlands and marshes were focal points for infection and should be eradicated.
In 1983, Fuente de Piedra lake was included in the Ramsar Convention on internationally important wetlands and on 9 January 1984 was declared an Integral Reserve by Law No. 1 passed by the Parliament of Andalusia. It was further classified as a Natural Reserve after its inclusion in the Andalusian Inventory of Protected Natural Areas by Law No. passed on 18 July 1989. In 1987 it was declared a Special Protection Zone for Birds within the European ecological network Natura 2000.

The reserve is made up of the lake itself and some 100 metres outside its periphery, giving a total area of 1,554 hectares, surrounded by a the peripheral protection zone (6,689 hectares).
The remains of the old salterns have diversified the lake bed, giving rise to islets, depressions and channels which introduce fresh water. These artificial structures have generated a wide environmental variety which has permitted the settlement of different animal and plant species.
The lake is the most important regular breeding site, along with Camargue (France), for the Greater Flamingo in the Mediterranean and north-west Africa. The number of flamingos in Fuente de Piedra varies annually as a result of the strong seasonal effects. In years of abundant rains there is a huge concentration of birds between February and July, with breeding taking place between March and August. Breeding takes place on mud banks and when the water levels are very high on the dikes and mounds which are above water level as islets. The water bird population of the lake fluctuates, both numerically and specifically, as it is greatly conditioned by the water levels, the salinity and length of time of standing water. In dry years, the water level is low and forms a shore which is favourable for the presence of waders/shore birds. In wet years the reverse occurs, and there is a corresponding increase in diving species.
[Guide to the Lake]

Ivan Sache, 9 April 2022

Symbols of Fuente de Piedra

The flag of Fuente de Piedra, adopted on 8 February 2022 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 25 March 2022 to the Directorate General of Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution issued on 30 March 2022 by the Directorate General of Local Administration and published on 6 April 2022 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 66, p. 5,589 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular with proportions 3:2, length by width.
In the panel's center, the official coat of arms of Fuente de Piedra, centered, in dimensions proportional to the panel's, leaving an upper and lower space of 1:6 the panel's width.
Green (vert) and blue (azure), in equal parts vertically distributed.
Green at hoist and blue at fly.
The flag was selected in a public contest organized by the municipality, whose results was proclaimed on 21 February 2022. Green represents the municipality's natural environment while blue represents water for which the municipality was named.
[Símbolos de Málaga]

The coat of arms of Fuente de Piedra, adopted on 2 August 1984 and 28 April 1986 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by an Order issued on 13 January 1987 by the Government of Andalusia (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 arms are described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Gules a fountain or, 2. Azure a flamingo argent. A base wavy argent and azure. A A bordure argent inscribed "FONS DIVINVS MVNVS HISPANIAE" in letters sable The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The fountain (fuente) makes the arms canting; the design is modeled on the fountain re-built in the 18th century on the town's main square on its Roman foundations (photo).
The other parts of the shield represent the lake of Fuente de Piedra and its flamingo colony. The Latin motto reads "Fountain Divine Gift to Hispania".
[Símbolos de Málaga]

Ivan Sache, 9 April 2022