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Málaga (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-02-04 by ivan sache
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Flag of Málaga - Image from the Símbolos de Málaga website, 19 September 2016


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Presentation of Málaga

The municipality of Málaga (596,130 inhabitants in 2015, therefore the 2nd most populated municipality in Andalusia and the 6th in Spain; 39,825 ha; municipal website) s the capital of the Province of Málaga. The municipality is divided into 11 districts: Centro (83,456 inh.), Este (58,639 inh.), Ciudad Jardín (37,014 inh.), Bailén-Miraflores (61,293 inh.), Palma-Palmilla (30,205 inh.), Cruz de Humilladero (87,951 inh.), Carretera de Cádiz (116,831 inh.), Churriana (19,183 inh.), Campanillas (18,094 inh.), Puerto de la Torre (28,251 inh.), and Teatinos-Universidad (34,405 inh.).
Málaga has 16 beaches spreading over 14 km: Campo de Golf San Julián (2,250 m), El Candado (200 m), El Dedo (550 m), El Palo (1,200 m), Fábrica de Cemento (350 m), Guadalmar (450 m), La Araa (500 m), La Caleta (1,000 m), La Malagueta (1,200 m), La Misericordia (2,000 m), Los Baños del Carmen (550 m), Pedregalejo Las Acacias (1,200 m), Peñón del Cuervo (450 m), Sacaba (750 m), and San Andrés (650 m).

Málaga and the surrounding area was already settled in the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by the dolmens of Antequera and the caves of La Pileta and Nerja. In the 8th century BC, the Phoenicians founded the colony of Malaka at the mouth of river Guadalhorce. Close to Malaka, the Greeks founded the colony of Mainake, which was suppressed by the Carthaginians, rulers of the area until 206 BC. These coastal sites were established because of resources in wood, required to power furnaces; the colonists mostly living from the trade of purpure and salt fish, minted their own coins. The area of Málaga was the border between the Phoenician coastal colonies and the Iberian fortified towns of the hinterland.
The conquest of Tyre by Nabuchodonosor in 573 BC caused the ruin of the Phoenician colonies, which were replaced by Carthaginian settlements, the southern shore of Spain played a pivotal role in the Carthaginian trade empire. The inhabitants of the coastal zone were named Libiophoenicians, while the native Turdetanians lived in the hinterland.

In the 2nd century BC, the Romans conquered the region and transformed the early settlements in organized towns that were granted a certain level of autonomy. In 197 BC, the region of Málaga was incorporated to the province of Hispania Ulterior. During the Imperial period, the Hispania Baetica province was divided into four conventi. Lex Flavia Malacitana, promulgated in 81, made of Málaga a municipality of Latin right; the tables including Articles 51 to 59 of the Law, found in 1851 near El Ejido, are kept in the Madrid National Archeological Museum; replica are exhibited in the Council Room of the Town Hall of Málaga. Remains of a triumphal arch, of a theatre and mosaics are still visible on the site of the former Roman town. The sources of income for the town were agricultural products, and, mostly, garum.
The Christian religion spread in the region in the 3rd-4th century; after the fall of the Roman Empire, Málaga was the capital of the Byzantine territory of Spania, eventually conquered by the Visigoths in the early 7th century.

In 711, Tariq Ibn Zayid defeated the Visigoth ruler Rodrigo; Málaga was incorporated in the Muslim states for the next eight centuries. The Muslim rule was eventually established in the beginning of the 10th century, when Abd-al-Rahman III submitted Omar ben Hafsn, lord of Bobastro, and his sons, who had led the rebellion of Moorish tribes and heirs of the Visigoth rulers. The citadel of Málaga was erected in the 11th century, in the aftermath of the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba. During the Nasrid period, some 15,000 people lived in the town, mostly Muslims; the residual population was made of Jews and captive Christians working in shipyards. The castle of Gibralfaro was erected on the hill dominating the town, known to the Arabs as Jabal-Farouk (The Lighthouse's Mount), by Yusuf I. Agriculture, based on the association of grapevine and figtree, flourished. A main figure of the town at this time is the Jewish, Neo-Platonic philosopher and poet Solomn ibn Gabirol, aka Avicebron.

The seizure of Alhama, in February 1482, was the first step of the Christian reconquest of the Kingdom of Granada. A few months later, Muley Hacen, overthrown by his son, Boabdil, fled to Málaga. While Boabdil started to negotiate with the Christians, his father started an armed struggle. In 1483, the Christians won the battle of Lopera, killing most of the warlords and notables of the province. The town of Málaga was eventually seized on 18 August 1487 during one of the most bloody episodes of the Granada Wars, by the Catholic Monarchs, who allowed only 25 mudéjar families to stay in the town. The town was re-designed according to two main axes that crossed on Four Street's Square (today, Constitution Square), delimiting four parishes.

The Bourbon kings of Spain made of Málaga the seat of the Captainry General of the Coast and of the Kingdom of Granada. The port was fortified while watch towers were erected all along the sea shore. The loss of Gibraltar to the Brits in 1704 deprived Málaga of one of the "keys of the Strait".
After a long period of decline, Málaga reemerged in the 19th century; the ironworks established by Manuel Agustín Heredia made of the town the national capital of iron. Textile industry boomed thanks to the Larios family. The Bank of Málaga was established in 1854.

Málaga is the birth town of the painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). In spite of having left the town with his family in 1891 and returned there only four times (1895, 1896, 1900 and 1901), the painter is remembered in his birth town by two museums.
The Museum "Pablo Ruiz Picasso' Birth House" was established on 26 February 1998 by the Municipality of Málaga, as the Fundación Pablo Ruiz Picasso (website). Registered in 1983 as a National Monument of Artistic and Historical Interest, the building was incorporated on 20 February 1991 to the Spanish Networks of Museums. The restored museum was inaugurated on 22 June 1998 by by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
The Pablo Picasso Museum of Málaga (website) was inaugurated on 27 October 2003 by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. In 1953, Picasso discussed with Juan Temboury Álvarez, Provincial Delegate of Arts, the establishment of a museum in his birth town. The project was reactivated in the 1990s by one of the daughters-in-law of the painter, Christine Ruiz-Picasso. The museum shows 233 paintings, covering the 1892-1972 period, and another 43 offered by the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte. The museum purchased in 2005 1,500 photos made by the Argentine photographer Roberto Otero (1931-2004), a close friend of the painter from 1960 until his death/

Ivan Sache, 19 September 2016


Flag of Málaga

The flag of Málaga (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo), submitted on 8 March 2012 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 9 April 2012 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 23 April 2012 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 78, p. 16 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, vertically divided in the middle, the part closer to the hoist, purple, the part closest to the fly, green. Charged in the geometrical enter of the panel with the municipal coat of arms.

The flag and the banner (pendón) of the town are described in Articles 4 and 6 of the Regulations of Protocol and Ceremonial of the town (text), respectively, as follows:

Article 4. The flag of the town of Málaga, granted by Royal Letters signed on 20 December 1795 [indeed, 1495!], whose right half (at the viewer's left) is green and the left half is purple, shall include on its panel the coat of arms described in Article 3, in height 2/5 of the flag's width and located in the center of the flag, over the green and purple colours.

Article 6. The banner of the town, hoisted on a wooden staff with bronze ornaments, with the arms of the town embroidered on damask, green and robin, shall be placed in an honour place in the office of the First Municipal Authority, during events whose exceptional significance motivates its presence.

The Royal Letters signed on 20 December 1495 by the Catholic Monarchs, kept at the Municipal Archives (Collection of Originals, volume 1, folio 190), include Ordinances "for the good regime and governance of the town": "We order that the banner painted with the arms that we have granted to the Council..." This is the oldest record of the proper banner of the town, but nothing is said on its shape and colours.
An official act of the Council, dated 14 March 1509, states that the new banner of the town, green and robin, shall be assigned to Luis de Monterroso, who shall keep it and use it when ordered by the Council. Another act, dated 17 August 1520, states that "Pedro de Villamar and his son, Bernardino de Madrid, entered the government's building and presented to the government the banner of the town, which is made of green and robin damask [...] with the gilded arms of the town." Royal Letters signed on 8 November 1527 by Emperor Charles V provide additional evidence for the banner. Aware that the inhabitants of Málaga could not not rally with the required haste in case of wars due to the lack of banner, the Emperor detailed the procedure of banner maintenance and hosting.
In Conversaciones Históricas Malagueñas, Medina Conde describes the banner as "the bordure of gilded yoke and arrows on a green field, the other half purple".
The banner was originally kept by the Alguacil Mayor. The office was subsequently transferred to the Alférez Mayor, who did not live in the town, therefore the "lack of banner" highlighted by Charles V. Today, the banner is carried in specific official circumstance by the younger member of the Municipal Council.
[La Opinión de Málaga, 2 June 2013]

Ivan Sache, 19 September 2016


Coat of arms of Málaga

The coat of arms of Málaga is prescribed by Decree No. 205, adopted on 16 July 2002 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 August 2002 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 97, p. 16,255 (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 Decree prescribes the modification of the coat of arms as follows:

The re-establishment of the red colour - gules - in the field of the shield.

The Preamble of the Decree explains that the municipality found it necessary to modify the coat of arms to be compliant with its "most faithful historical tradition." The memoir supporting the proposed modification includes a copy of the Royal Letters granting the arms; here the field of the shield is prescribed as colorado. With time, modifications of the shield drifted from the original. The proposed modification was validated on 21 April 1999. The registration process of the modification was initiated on 29 October 1999 by the Municipal Council; the modification was validated on 23 May 2002 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba.

The coat of arms is described in Article 3 of the Regulations of Protocol and Ceremonial of the town (text), as follows:

By Royal Letters signed on 30 August 1494, the Catholic Monarchs granted to Málaga a coat of arms that includes the following heraldic components:
On a red field - gules-, representing the conquest of the town, the image of the town and of the fortress of Gibralfaro, in proper colours, with the captives' enclosure (Christian booty), the captives in black and white - argent and sable.
With all due respect to the martyr saints of Málaga, Sts. Syriacus and Paula*, their representation at pryer, "at the level" of the towers of Gibralfaro, with a blue cloak - azure - and a golden tunica - or, the collar of St. Paula golden - or -, too.
In the lower part, at the foot of Gibralfaro and the walls, to represent the port, sea waves azure and argent.
The shape of the shield and the crown, as traditionally used.

Article 3 further prescribes the use of the coat of arms on the flag of the town, used either outdoors or inside municipal buildings.

The shield is surrounded by scrolls inscribed with the titles and mottos granted to the town, which are described in Article 2 of the Regulations of Protocol and Ceremonial of the town (but not in the description of the arms!):

Dexter and chief: "Siempre Denodada" (Always Bold) and "La Primera en el Peligro de la Libertad" (The First to Defend Threatened Liberty), a title and a motto granted on 21 August 1843 to recall the political struggle that ended with the fall of General Espartero [Regent from 1841 to 1843].
Sinister: "Muy Hospitalaria" (Very Hospitable), a title granted on 1 February 1901 as a reward for the abnegation and solidarity of the inhabitants of the town after the wreck of the German frigate Gneisenau; "Muy Benéfica (Very Beneficial), a title granted on 28 February 1922 as a reward for the beneficial and altruist care of the inhabitants of the town for the injured of the Moroccan War and their support to an hospital.
Base: "Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Málaga. "Muy Noble" is a title granted in 1492 when the municipal government decided that the title should appear on all official documents to highlight the noble lineage of most of the new colonists of the town; "Muy Leal" is a title granted on 1640 by Philip IV to reward the town for its support to the crown, especially a big amount of money.
"Tanto Monta" (They Amount to the Same), the motto of the Catholic Monarchs, documented on the arms of the town since 1642.

The "rehabilitation" of the coat of arms was, undoubtedly, based on Rafael Bejarano's study (El Escudo de Málaga. Approximación a su realidad heráldica. Part I, Isla de Arriarán, 1, 15-18, 1993; Part II, Isla de Arriarán, 2, 7-12, 1993; Part III, Isla de Arriarán, 3, 11-19, 1994).
The coat of arms of Málaga is part of the Corporative Identity of the municipality.

*Syriacus and his sister, Paula, were allegedly stoned in Málaga during the Diocletian persecution. Informed of the Christian reconquest of the town, Pope Innocent VIII sent a letter to the Catholic Monarchs, stating that the town had been consecrated by the martyr of Sts. Syriacus and Paula, stoned like the first martyr, Stephen. Accordingly, the inhabitants of Málaga placed the town under the protection of the saints.
[Vie des saints pour tous les jours de l'année suivant l'ordre de l'office romain, Society of Jesus, 1849, pp. 212-214]

Ivan Sache, 19 September 2016