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City of Huelva (Andalusia, Spain)

Huelva Province

Last modified: 2010-03-20 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: spain | andalusia | huelva | municipality | bordure (white) |
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The municipality of Huelva (148,027 inhabitants in 2008; 14,900 ha) is the capital of the Province of Huelva, the westernmost and least inhabited province of Andalusia, on the border with Portugal.

Succeeding Paleolithic and Neolithic settlers, the Tartessian Ibers colonized the area located between rivers Tinto and Odiel, the today's site of Huelva. 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 proved 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 call Huelva "Onuba Aestuaria," a wealthy town that minted its own coins. Little has remained from the Wisigothic period, during which the main town in the region and seat of the bihsopric 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 Colombus' 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) andwharfs 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.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 05 Aug 2009


The flag of the maritime province of Huelva.

Santiago Dotor, 14 Sep 2000

On 20 September 2004, the Municipal of Huelva asked the General Directorate of Local Administration to confirm the traditional flag and arms of the town, which was done by Decree on 29 September 2004, published in the Andalusian official gazette (Boletín Oficial de la Junta de Andalucía, BOJA) No. 202 on 15 October 2004.

The relevant parts of the Decree are the following:

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.

Flag: Rectangular, white with a blue die or square in the middle.

The symbols should be registered on the Andalusian Register of Local Entities, with their official written description and graphics (as originally submitted, but unfortunately not appended to the Decree).

Source: BOJA, No. 202, p. 22,985, 15 Oct 2004

As reported by "Huelva Información" on 12 January 2006, the flag of the town was originally granted to the Maritime Province of Huelva in 1845. The official description clearly states that there should be a square in the middle of the flag, and not a rectangle. A report by Jaume Ollé, dated 27 February 2000, already stated that the town and the province share the (at the time, unofficial) flag with a blue square. The FOTW website shows for the town of Huelva a flag with a blue rectangle, which seems to have been the source for some Wikipedia images. Without an example of a real flag, it is difficult to guess the size of the central square, which is not stated in the Decree.

Ivan Sache, 05 Aug 2009

Unofficial Flags

Without Arms
[Huelva city (Andalusia, Spain)]
image by José Luis Brugués
With Arms
[Huelva city (Andalusia, Spain)]
image by Wikipedia User:Buho07, 05 Aug 2009

A flag with a blue rectangle charged with the coat of arms is presented in Wikipedia as the official flag of the town. This flag is not official but it does exist; it is shown, for instance, being waved by the members of a local basketball team, and inside the headquarters of the football club "Recreativo Huelva."

Ivan Sache, 05 Aug 2009

Coat of Arms

The guide of the corporate image of the town, available on the municipal website, describes the coat of arms in great detail. Diego Díaz Herrera says that the town originally bore the arms of the Duke of Medina-Sodinia, 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 martitime 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 Huelva Province 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 point 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, Victoria, Murcia and Cadíx. 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 specifically represents the defense of the coast against the Turks, indeed more a defense tower than a castle. 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 (sic), also representing security and constancy even in misfortune.

Source: huelva.es (p.1), huelva.es (p.2)

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.

Source: huelva.es (p.3)

The guide includes the official version of the "institutional coat of arms.

Source: huelva.es (p.4)

On the aforementioned, unofficial flag, the coat of arms is represented in a more heraldic and less schematic manner than on the guide.

Ivan Sache, 05 Aug 2009

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