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Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Huelva - Image by Blas Delgado, 25 October 2005
The municipality of Huelva (148,027 inhabitants in 2008; 14,900 ha; municipal website) is the capital of the Province of Huelva.
Huelva's site, located between rivers Tinto and Odiel, was colonized by the Tartessians, who succeeded Paleolithic and Neolithic settlers. They lived from mining trade, mostly with the Phoenicians (from the early 8th century BC onwards) and the Greeks (from the 7th century onwards), as evidenced by Greek arms and helmets found in the Huelva ria. This resulted in the orientalization of the Tartessians, as exemplified by the necropolis of La Joya.
In the Roman times, the area of Huelva was known as Beturia, a name used by geographers for the region delimited by rivers Betis (Guadalquivir) and Anas (Guadiana), inhabited by "Celts"; Pliny and Ptolemy described Huelva as Onuba Aestuaria, a wealthy town that minted its own coins.
Little has remained from the Visigothic period, during which the main town in the region and seat of the bishopric was Niebla (Elepia).
Conquered in 713 by the Moors, the town was renamed Welba; for centuries, it was the capital of an independent kingdom (taifa) ruled by the Bekries dynasty, lords of Huelva and Saltés.
The Moors left the area after the seizure of Niebla by King Alfonso X the Wise in 1262.In the middle of the 15th century, Huelva was incorporated in the Duchy of Medina Sodinia and remained part of it until the middle 19th century.
Huelva is considered as "the Cradle of the Discovery of America"; the friars Juan Pérez and Antonio de Marchena, from the monastery of Rábida, promoted and supported Columbus' travels. Most captains and seamen embarked on Colombus' caravels were from Huelva. The expedition credited the discovery left the port of Palos de la Frontera on 3 August 1492.
In 1833, Huelva was erected a provincial capital in the new administrative system designed by Javier de Burgos. Following the partial purchase of the Rio Tinto mines in 1873, the British company Matheson & Co. built a railway to transport ore (replacing mules) and wharfs to load ore on ships, and dramatically modernized the extraction system. The immigration of workers and British traders caused a big increase in the population of the town. The celebration of the fourth centenary of the Discovery of America was associated with a main revamping and embelishment of the town. After the set up of a Pole of Industrial Development in 1964, the population increased again, from 75,000 in 1960 to 140,000 in 1990.
Today, the main industries in Huelva are related to chemistry and fishery. The commerce port was modernized and increased in 1972-1981 with the building of a dedicated oil terminal.
Ivan Sache, 5 August 2009
The flag and arms of Huelva, submitted on 20 September 2004 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 29 September 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 15 October 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 202, p. 22,985 (text).
The symbols, "of traditional design following the use and customs", are described as follows:
Flag: Rectangular, white with a blue dice or quadrilater in the middle.
Coat of arms: Argent, a tree (olive tree) in the middle flanked on the right by a castle and on the left by an anchor, orled with the writing "Portus maris et terrae custodia" [Port of the sea and guardian of the land]. The shield surmounted with a Ducal coronet.
Diego Díaz Herrera says that the town originally bore the arms of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Count of Niebla, used all over the Duchy. An inventory of the Municipal Archives, dated 1602, gives the oldest mention of proper arms for Huelva; the motto "Portus maris et terrae custodia" surrounds the left oval of the seal, drawn by Agustín de Mora y Negro. The lower part of the oval shows an arch on a water background, quite faithfully matching the description of the Star's Arch (Arco de la Estrella) and a clear reference to the maritime activity of the town, while its upper part shows a big hill surmounted by a castle represented with a lot of details. The other oval on the seal represents an olive tree surrounded by the caption "Armas de la villa de Huelva" (Arms of the Town of Huelva).
A Chapter Act dated 18 July 1676 bears the oldest known true seal of the town; the oval seal has a black background with a tree in the upper part and the writing "Huelva" in white letters in the lower part. In 1850-1870, the municipal seal showed a tree ending as a Royal crown and orled by the writing "Alcadía Constitutional de Huelva" (Constitutional Municipal Administration of Huelva). The first known coat of arms of Huelva was published in 1866 in Manuel Climent's Croníca General; the frontispiece of the section dedicated to the Province of Huelva displays an oval shield with a tree in upper part and in lower part a simplified, crenellated castle (indeed a tower) crossed by an anchor and surmounted by a Ducal coronet. Esteban Paluzie's Blasones españoles... published in 1877, includes the first representation of the modern coat of arms, the tree being a pine-shaped olive tree. The municipal seals were made of two adjacent ovals, at least until the beginning of the 20th century; during the First Republic, the crown was replaced by a mother's allegory.
The present-day coat of arms is based on Díaz Herrera's description:
Narrowed in base with a central point, of French origin since the French have been using such a shape since the 16th century, with the complex shape of ovals, one and two, surmounted by a crown not really fixed in the beginning, either a Ducal coronet or a Royal crown, replaced during the Second Republic by a mural crown. Orled by the Latin writing "Portus maris et terrae custodia" taken from a seal of arms dated 1762. [...] Our arms are of exquisite originality. Very few coats of arms of provincial capitals bear a Latin motto: Lugo, Burgos, Vitoria, Murcia and Cadíz. The tree looks more like an olive tree than a pine on the most modern of our seals [...]. Jacobo del Barco considers olive trees and pines as the oldest vegetation in Andalusia. In heraldry, a castle stands for splendor and force, as well as the legitimate power to protect friends and allied and to resist enemies. The castle, indeed more a defense tower than a castle, specifically represents the defense of the coast against the Turks,. The anchor, represented on Climent's arms in 1866, symbolizes the wealth of the antique Onuba, fishery. In heraldry, the anchor is the hieroglyph of hope, also representing security and constancy even in misfortune.
The corporate colours are given as:
- Blue (border): Pantone 285c;
- Gold (frame and crown): Pantone 143c;
- Brown (tower): Pantone 146c;
- Brown (tree): Pantone 168c;
- Grey (anchor): Pantone Cool Gray 10c;
- Green (tree): Pantone 348c.
Ivan Sache, 5 August 2009
Unofficial flag of Huelva - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 April 2009
A flag with a blue rectangle charged with the municipal coat of arms is used unofficially, for instance, being waved by the members of a local basketball team (photo), and inside the headquarters of the football club Recreativo Huelva.
Ivan Sache, 5 August 2009
Flag of Real Club Recreativo de Huelva - Image by Luis Miguel Arias, 5 April 2009
Huelva is the cradle of football in Spain. The introduction of football in the town is linked to the massive immigration of Brits following the concession of the Río Tinto mine to the Matheson & Co. mining company. The first football match was played in Huelva in 1873 by English seamen; subsequently, the mining company organized matches on the factory grounds on Saturdays. On 23 December 1889, Alexander McKay and Guillermo Sundheim de la Cueva founded the Huelva Recreation Club (website), the first football club in Spain, therefore the nickname of El Decano (The Doyen) still given to the club. The "Recre" also won the first trophy ever granted in Spain, defeating the local English team, 2-0. Under the "Spanish" name of Club Recreativo de Huelva, adopted in 1903, the club took part to the first Spain championships, organized in Madrid in 1906-1907. In 1909, the club was awarded the title of "Real" by King Alfonso XIII, who accepted to serve as the Honour President of the club. A founding member of the Spanish Federation of Football Clubs, the "Recre" was champion of Andalusia from 1903 to 1914. In 1920, the club defeated the Sporting Lisbon, being the first foreign team to win a match in Portugal.
The "Recre" played for the first time in the Spanish First League in 1978-1979 but was relegated to the Second League at the end of the season. Close to suppression in the 1990s because of money shortage, the club re-emerged in 1997, playing again in the Second League. Back to the First League in 2002-2003, the club could not stay there either. In 2006, it won the Second League championship and joined for the third time the First League, ranking 8th in 2006-2007; in 2008, the club kept its seat in First League on the last day of the championship, which it could not achieve the next year, falling down again in the Second League.
The flag of Real Club Recreativo de Huelva is horizontally divided into six blue-white-blue-white-blue-white stripes with the club emblem in the middle. The emblem is made of the blue interlaced intials of the club name, surrounded by a yellow ring, placed on a white shield outlined in blue; the shield is surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown all or.
Ivan Sache, 5 August 2009
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