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Ojén (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-08-28 by ivan sache
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Flag of Ojén - Image from the Símbolos de Málaga website, 13 June 2019

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Presentation of Ojén

The municipality of Ojén (3,658 inhabitants in 2018; 8,592 ha; municipal websitew) is located 60 km south-west of Málaga and 10 km north-east of Marbella.

Ojén was first mentioned in the Chronicle of the Feats of the Emir of Córdoba. In 921, Abd al-Rahman III (891-961) submitted the revolted Mozarabs who had established a kingdom headquartered in Bobastro; one of the decisive battle was fought in the castle of Ojén. Ojén subsequently produced raisins, dried figs, almonds, silk, wax and honey that were shipped to Africa via Marbella.

After the Christian reconquest, the Muslims were forced to live at least one league away from the coast, to prevent them to support pirates. Most inhabitants of Marbella emigrated to Ojén, which counted only four Old Christians households out of 1514. In spite of their promise to respect Islam, the Christians erected a church in 1505, upon order of Diego de Deza, Bishop of Seville.
In 1569, the Moriscos of Ojén joined the uprising that had broke out one year earlier in Istán ; they killed their Christian neighbors, burned down the church, the houses and the fields and withdrew to the mountains. After the pacification of the region by the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Duke of Arcos, the Moriscos were exiled and Ojén was resettled by Old Christians.
In 1772, the British chronicler Francis Carter described Ojén as "a village inhabited by kind and humble people, who ignore tea and coffee but enjoy goat milk in clay cups."
Ojén was granted the title of villa in 1807 by Charles IV, separating from Marbella.

The Marquess of Larios built in 1906 the Juanar Palace, a hunting lodge where he once welcomed King Alfonso XIII. Transformed in 1965 into a luxury hotel (Parador Nacional), the palace welcomed for 24 days in June 1970 General de Gaulle (1890-1970), who stayed in lodge No. 3 with his wife Yvonne (1900-1979), his bodyguard and his driver. The general, who had left the power in 1969 in the aftermath of the May 1968 events, needed a quite place to complete the redaction of his memoirs - which remained unfinished since he would die less than six months later. De Gaulle enjoyed walking through the neighboring pinewoods, but also local beverages (Jerez wine) and game (partridges, rabbits and quails).
[El Confidencial, 29 July 2010]

Ivan Sache, 13 June 2019

Symbols of Ojén

The flag of Ojén, adopted on 28 March 2019 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 26 April 2019 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 17 May 2019 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 28 May 2019 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 100, p. 111 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:1 (length to width), horizontally divided into three parts. The upper third, horizontally divided in a green, upper stripe, of 6/7, and in a blue, lower stripe, of 1/7. The central third, white. The lower third horizontally divided in a blue, upper stripe, of 1/7, and in a brown, lower stripe, of 6/7. In the center, the municipal coat of arms.

The flag, selected in a public competition, was proposed by Inmaculada Lorente under the title "Ojén is a landscape". According to the Mayor, the jury was composed of some 20 members representing the most significant social collectivities of the town. The spokespersons of the political groups at the Municipal Council were invited to work together to obtain maximal consensus on the flag design.
Selected by a great majority of the jury's members, the winning design "represents and symbolizes the town's landscape, culture and traditions [..] so that the citizens can identify themselves with the flag and establish a special connection with it".

The designer explained that her proposal was inspired by Ojén's natural environment. The upper green stripe represents the Mediterranean mountains, the wild natural environment, sports, and agriculture. The middle white stripes was inspired by the traditional architecture of the town's houses, church, and museum. Brown represents the soil, the caves, and the landscape.
The design also includes two small blue stripes alluding to water: on one hand, wild water running down from the mountain to the town, on the other hand, underground water, percolating and molding the soil, which is controlled and supplied for private use and irrigation via canals and fountains.
The designer said that the flag highlights Ojén as "a cradle of traditions and culture", where tradition and innovation are perfectly combined: "Ojén is flamenco, folklore and modernity, respect and equality. Ojén is youth and third age. Ojén is landscape. Ojén is life".
[Municipal website, 13 February 2019]

The competition for the flag design was initiated on 31 January 2018 by the Municipal Council; the 10 Councillors from the PSOE approved the proposal, while the Councillor from the PP abstained from voting. The competition was officially announced on 31 March 2018.
[Al Sol de la Costa, 13 March 2018]
An Annoucement issued of 5 June 2018 by the Municipal Council and published in 21 June 2018 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 199, p. 285 (text), explains that the jury assessed the submitted designs on 29 May 2018; five out of the twleve submssions were short-listed for the final selection of the flag.

The coat of arms of Ojén is prescribed by an Order adopted on 12 June 1986 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 5 July 1986 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 66, pp. 2,380-2,381 (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 coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Quarterly, 1. Gules a tower argent a lion's head or issuant, 2. Azure an Hispanic goat gules, 3. Argent a grapevine plant vert, 4. Vert a half moon argent [Crown not mentioned].

The arms used by the municipality differ from the registered version. The shield is framed and quartered in yellow, the goat is sable instead of gules, and the background of the fourth quarter is sable / azure instead of vert. Finally, a yellow scroll inscribed with "Ojén" in black letters is placed beneath the shield.
The grapevine alludes to Ojén aguardiente, so famous that it became a common name, "ojén", defined by the Dictionary of Spanish Language as "aguardiente prepared with anise and sugar until saturation" (entry).
The moon recalls the Arab past of the town.
[Municipal website]

In his chronicle for the daily ABC published on 11 February 1995 (scan), the Nobel Prize awardee (1989) Camillo José Cela (1916-2002) relates "ojén's life and death", recalling that the genuine ojén was invented by Pedro Morales. whose bottle labels were decorated with the coat of arms of Spain, Málaga, and Ojén and the honorific title of "Supplier of the Royal House". When Morales died in 1910, one of his nephews plagiarized the label (the Royal warrant excepted) but could not maintain the quality of the beverage.In 1956, Juan Espada, whose father had worked with Pedro Morales and allegedly been transmitted the secrete receipt of ojén, acquired a farm; he also purchased from Isabel Villarubia Morales the old family distillery. Production started in 1961 and sales quickly increased; unfortunately, Espada met controversial a associates, which caused the bankrupt of the distillery in 1974.

Ivan Sache, 13 June 2019