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Segovia (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Segovia - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2014


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Presentation of Segovia

The municipality of Segovia (55,748 inhabitants in 2010, therefore the 8th most populous town in Castilla y León; 163.59 sq. km; unofficial website) is the capital of Segovia Province.

Segovia was founded in 1076 BC by Hercules. The town was rather settled by a Celtiberian tribe and subsequently conquered by the Romans, who built there the famous aqueduct.
In the Visigothic times, St. Fructus (c. 642-715), the patron saint of Segovia, retired with his two siblings St. Valentin and St. Engracia in an hermitage built near Carrascal del Río (70 km north of Segovia), on a rock dominating river Duratón. Once threatened by Moors, the saint drew a line on the soil (cuchillada); when his assaulters crossed it, the earth opened up and swallowed them. The saint's relics were kept in the hermitage in the 8th-11th centuries, and then transported to the Segovia Cathedral. In 756, the town was sacked by Abd-ar-Rahman, who destroyed some arches of the aqueduct, later rebuilt by the Catholic monarchs; not pleased with the climate, the Moors did not settle the area, which remained for centuries a no man's land (tierra de nadie).

Resettled in the early 10th century by King Alfonso VI, Segovia became famous for its knights. In 1079, Día Sanz and Fernán García joined the Christian army besieging Magerit (Madrid); mocked by the veterans, the upset knights attacked nightly the Moorish fortress, which surrendered; since then, nobody dared messing with Segovian knights.
In the 12th century, Segovia developed as one of the most significant towns in Castile, ruling a huge territory (Community of the Town and Land of Segovia) spreading to the today's Madrid, Toledo and Ávila Provinces. The cathedral and many churches and monasteries were built; in the 13th century, St. Dominic stayed in Segovia. Alfonso X the Wise made of the Segovia alcazar a royal residence.

The 15th century was Segovia's Gilded Age, when the town cloth-makers became famous all over Europe. The Court and several nobles stayed for long periods in the town. John II was crowned in 1406 in the Segovia Cathedral, a few months after his birth. His son, Henry IV, born in Segovia in 1425, was not a great King of Spain but increased the privileges of the town, founding the Thursday Market, revamping and building several palaces and churches. In 1472, Bishop Juan Arias Dávila (c. 1436-1497) commissioned the German printer Juan Parix de Heidelberg (aka Johannes Parix) to print Sinodal de Aguilafuente (Acts of the Aguilafuente Synod), considered as the first document printed in Spain. Queen Isabel the Catholic was crowned in 1474 in the St. Michael church.

Ferdinand the Catholic remarried in 1505 in Segovia with Germana de Foix. The Commoners Wars started in 19 May 1520 in the Corpus Christi church, with the Segovian Juan Bravo as one of his leaders. On 12 November 1570, Philip II married Ann of Austria in the town.
The Royal College of Artillery was inaugurated on 16 May 1794 in the Segovia alcazar; the first military college in Spain and one of the first in the world, the Royal College was especially famous for its chemistry laboratory, where the French chemist Joseph Proust established in 1794 the Law of Definite Proportions, and for its library, unfortunately mostly lost in a blaze that occurred in 1862.

Segovia is the birth town of the cyclist Pedro "Perico" Delgado (b. 1960) winner of the Tour of Spain in 1985 and 1989 and the 3rd Spanish to win, in 1988, the Tour de France, in spite of controversy.

Ivan Sache, 21 June 2011


Symbols of Segovia

The symbols of Segovia are prescribed in the Regulation of the Protocol, Honours, Distinction and Ceremonial of the Municipality of Segovia, adopted on 31 January 2011 by the Municipal Council, signed on 1 April 2011 by the Mayor, and published on 15 April 2011 in the official gazette of the Segovia Province, No. 45, pp. 5-20 (text). The document supersedes the Regulation adopted on 26 December 1963 by the Municipal Council and validated on 30 November 1965 by the Spanish Government. Whether the symbols were already described in the early Regulation is unknown to me.

The flag is described in Article 3, as follows:

The flag of the town of Segovia [photo, Town Hall; photo, Mayor's office; photo] is celestial blue, of rectangular shape (proportions 2:3), with the bordered coat of arms of Segovia, in full colours, in the middle. The flag shall be hoisted on the Town Hall and on the municipal buildings, together with the flag of Spain, which shall always be at the prominent position of maximum honour, and the flag of the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León, placed at the left of the national flag.
The flag of Segovia shall be placed, in a distinctive location, in the room of the plenum and official press meeting of the Mayor, together with the national flag in acts whose exceptional importance requires its presence.
The addition to the flag of the town of Segovia of acronyms, symbols, or drawings of any kind is prohibited, as well as those representing parties, unions, associations or other kinds of entities.

The coat of arms is described in Article 2, as follows:

The coat of arms of the town [image] is of Spanish shape, fimbriated in gold, of rectangular, oblong and rounded-off in base, shape, azure a two- staged aqueduct argent masoned sable ensigned with a human head proper standing on rocks of the same [not represented on the images]. The shield surmounted by the Royal Spanish crown, without any other external ornament.
This symbol, which could be represented according to the guidebook of corporative identity of the municipality [image], shall be, as a rule, used on all the municipal buildings, properties and municipal vehicles. It shall be of regular use in all official communications, especially on seals, on proper communications as well on those contracted by the Municipality for the management of its services.
The use of the coat of arms of Segovia by other than the Municipal administration is subjected to permission granted by this administration.

Quoting Mary Ann Sullivan, Bluffton University:

End of 1st to early 2nd century AD (but no date is recorded in Roman sources).
One of the greatest surviving monuments of Roman engineering, this aqueduct stretches from the walls of the old town to the edges of Sierra de Guadarrama. It is about 2,950 feet long although the section where the arches are divided in two levels is about 900 feet. It is made of rough-hewn massive granite blocks, joined without mortar or clamps.
The sections in two tiers are 115" high. A raised section of stonework in the center once had an inscription. Today only the holes for the bronze letters survive. Steps at the side lead up to the old city walls (at left).

The maid shown on the aqueduct on the arms of Segovia might be related to the legend explaining the origin of the aqueduct. A maid in charge of carrying water home accepted a pact with the devil: she promised to deliver him her mother's souls, would water being supplied to her door before the rooster sings. Feeling guilty, the maid prayed until total exhaustion to break the pact. In the meantime, a tornado broke out and the devil started working. When the rooster sang, the devil screamed violently: the aqueduct lacked the last stone and the devil lost the expected soul. The maid explained the situation to the Segovians, who cleaned up the aqueduct from sulphur with holy water. A minute hole in the surface of each stone recalls the devil's fingers.

Several municipalities in the Province of Segovia that were once part of the Community of the Town and Land of Segovia have a coat of arms showing a quarter "Gules the Segovia aqueduct on ten rocks argent", for instance (non-exhaustive list):
- Per pale, 1.: Valverde del Majano;
- Per pale, 2.: Abades, Bernuy de Porreros, Cantimpalos, Carbonero el Mayor, Labajos, Lastras del Pozo, Marugán, Migueláñez, Muñoveros, Sangarcía, Valdeprados, Valverde del Majano;
- Quarterly, 2. and 3.: Los Huertos, Monterrubio, Ortigosa del Monte.
This is also the case for several municipalities located in the Community of Madrid:
- Per pale, 1.: Villamanta;
- Per pale, 2.: Alameda del Valle, Bustarviejo, Chapinería, Fresnedillas de la Oliva, Navalafuente, Navalagamella, Santa María de la Alameda, Valdelaguna, Valdemanco, Villamantilla, and Zarzalejo
- Per fess, 2., field azure: Guadalix de la Sierra, Moraleja de Enmedio and Navalcarnero.

Ivan Sache, 26 February 2014