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Gelves (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-11-19 by ivan sache
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Flag of Gelves - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 29 May 2014

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Presentation of Gelves

The municipality of Gelves (8,828 inhabitants in 2008; 818 ha; municipal website), is located 6 km south of Seville.

There is no consensus on the etymology of Gelves. The archeologist Rodrigo Caro believes that the town was mentioned by Pliny as Juli Genius. José María de Mena believes that the ancient name of the town was Gelduba, the -uba suffix being of Celtiberian origin. Cesar Bermúdez prefers Geldaba, considered by Serrano Ortega as a bastardization of Gelduba in the Moorish times, via the Arabic Gebal, "Pleasure Mount"; Vicente García de Diego corrected the translation by comparison with the more modern Arabic word gibral, "a height". However, the most convincing explanation, proposed by G. Chic García, refers to the Latin name Olbensis, subsequently transformed as Olbe, Huelbes, Yelbes, Gelbes, and, eventually, Gelves. An amphora used to transport olive oil, found in Central Europe, bears the writing Olbensis; the Roman settlement was then part of the Fundus Olbensis, an estate whose remains have been excavated by the French archeologist Michel Ponsich in 1974.

In Moorish times, the settlement increased by the input of craftsmen and civil servants, who transformed the rural colony into a small town. In 1247, King Ferdinand III decided to reconquer the town of Seville. The troops led by Pelay Correa sacked Gelves, killing or capturing the villagers who could not have fled in due time. After the reconquest, Gelves was resettled by Portuguese and Castilian colonists. in 1446, King Henry IV transferred the town from its previous lords, Juan de Tovar, to Gonzalo de Guzmán. Tovar did not give up and took the town by force on 21 September 1459; the king ordered the nobles of Seville to show their loyalty by preventing Tovar to stay in the town. Guzmán eventually decided that, after his death, the domain should be sold and the money granted to pious works, which was done by his sons; Pedro Girón, Count of Ureña, purchased the two parts of the town, in 1459 and 1462 respectively. The Tovar did not give up either, so that the town was sequestered in January 1478 and ran by Cardinal Mendoza. On 13 June 1527, the Duke of Frías sold Gelves to Jorge Alberto de Portugal y Melo, who was made Count of Gelves by Charles I on 20 June 1529. He was succeeded on 1543 by his elder son, ēlvaro de Portugal y Colón, famous for his support to poets and writers, especially Fernando de Herrera "El Divino" (c. 1534-1597), who was so fond of his patron's wife, Leonor de Milán (but there was no reprocity, though). In the 18th century, the County was transfered by marriage to the House of Alba.

In the 19th century, Gelves was particularly enjoyed by the Romantic poets, due to its picturesque landscape, orchards, gardens and vineyards. Gelves has been portrayed in several works, such as Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas (the source for the libretto of Verdi's The Force of Destiny), Simón Verde by Fernán Caballero [Cecilia Böhl de Faber] and Las márgenes del Guadalquivir by Edmundo Noel. The town and its surroundings have also been described by several foreign travelers, such as Washington Irving, Francisco Rodríguez Marín and Karl Baedeker.

Ivan Sache, 7 July 2009

Symbols of Gelves

The flag of Gelves (photo, photo, photo, photo), adopted on 13 July 2007 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 26 July 2007 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 3 September 2007 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 14 September 2007 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 182, p. 34 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Flag made of three horizontal stripes, green, white, and blue, with a relation of 3:2 between its maximum and minimum dimensions, the inner and outer dimensions matching the proportions and standards accepted for the flags of Andalusia and Spain. On the white central stripe is the coat of arms of the town.

The flag, designed by José Maía Burgos Mejías and Maía José Rodríguez Fernández, was selected in a public contest organized by the municipality. The colour specifications are given as (municipal website):

Colour		  CMYK         RGB         
Chartreuse green  40-0-100-0   132-194-37
White		  0-0-0-0      255-255-255
Blue		  90-29-2-0    0-121-184

According to the municipal administration, green is the colour of La Comisa del Aljarafe, one of the best preserved environment in the neighborhood. White symbolize the traditional white houses of the old town, built on the steep sloe of La Comisa as a protection from the floods of river Guadalquivir. Blue is the symbol of the sky over Seville and its reflection in the waters of river Guadalquivir when crossing Gelves. The colours are also those of the main elements of the coat of arms.
[Símbolos de Sevilla website]

The coat of arms of Gelves, validated by the Royal Academy of History, is prescribed by Royal Decree No. 1,823, adopted on 18 June 1976 and published on 30 July 1976 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 182, p. 14,757 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree 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 "rehabilitated" coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Or on waves azure and argent a cypress vert superimposed with an anchor sable pointing sinister. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

Gelves used until 1837 the coat of arms of the County of Gelves, made of five escutcheons with the Portuguese quinas on a field argent and a Duke's coronet. The constitutional municipality, founded in 1837, adopted the same year "Argent a cypress proper through its trunk an amphora argent fimbriated sable. The shield surmounted by a Duke's coronet"
[Municipal website]

Ivan Sache & Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 28 October 2015

Club Deportivo Gelves


Flag of CDGelves - Image by Ivan Sache, 28 October 2015

Club Deportivo Gelves, the local football club, currently plays in the 4th Andalusian League.
The flag of the club is diagonally divided green-red with the club's emblem in the middle. It was hoisted on 15 May 2014 on the balcony of the town Hall to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the club's foundation (photo).

Ivan Sache, 28 October 2015