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Robledo de Chavela (Municipality, Community of Madrid, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Robledo de Chavela - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 July 2015

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Presentation of Robledo de Chavela

The municipality of Robledo de Chavela (4,037 inhabitants in 2014; 9,301 ha; tourism website) is located in the south-west of the Community of Madrid, on the border of Castilla y León (Province of Ávila), at equal distance (70 km) of Madrid, Ávila and Segovia.

Robledo is named for the estate of Roboretum (from robur, "an oak"; Spanish, roble), established by the Romans near a road 1500 years ago. The origin of Chavela is more controversial. Some say it was derived from ocho in vela (eight at watch), recalling that the medieval fortress was defended by eight soldiers, who are represented by the eight candle-shaped pinnacles that surmount the church tower. Other say that it recalls the eight small towers that surrounded the apse of the church. Jiménez de Gregorio rather believes that Chavela alludes to the name of a re-settler form the 11th century, cha meaning "father" and vela (see Velasco), "a crow". Gregorio de Andrés considers that choza, means "a house, a possession" (see in French, chez, "at"); therefore, Chavela would mean Vela's estate.
A document dated 1302 says that the village was re-settled by colonists from Segovia, being subsequently incorporated to the Community of the Town and Land of Segovia. The town increased in significance in the 14th-15th century, with the building of the big church of the Ascension of the Virgin, decorated with a wealthy altarpiece. A market was established near the church, while houses and bridges were rebuilt.

In 1653, King Philip II decided the building of the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which was erected, as some say, "in Robledo de Chavela". The village of Zarzalejo, then part of Robledo, was selected as the site for the new monastery. The tradition says that the villagers opposed so fiercely that the upset king said they were "more untamed that the Caribbean Indians", therefore their nickname of caribes. The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial was eventually established, separating from Robledo, which lost 15,000 ha. Zarzalejo was granted the status of villa in 1711, as was Fresnedillas in 1740.
Robledo de Chavela was granted the status of villa in 1626, to be sold in 1640 to José Strata y Espínola to pay the municipal debts. The Marquisate of Robledo de Chavela was established in 1649; the Marquis' widow married in 1670 with the Duke of Canzano and the domain was eventually acquired in 1756 by Eugenio de Mena Benavides. Originally incorporated to the Province of Segovia, Robledo was transferred in 1833 to the Province of Madrid.

NASA inaugurated in 1964 in Robledo the MDSCC (Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex, website) station; the first antenna, of 26 m in diameter, was operational the next year.

Ivan Sache, 23 July 2015

Symbols of Robledo de Chavela

The flag (photos) and arms of Robledo de Chavela are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 4 December 1991 by the Government of the Community of Madrid and published on 29 January 1992 in the official gazette of the Community of Madrid, No. 24, p. 5 (text), and on 20 March 1992 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 69, pp. 11-12 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Red, charged in the middle with the crowned municipal coat of arms and eight blue stars placed close to the angles and the mid part of each side of the panel.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Or an oak eradicated proper surrounded by eight stars azure, 2. Gules a church tower argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

Ivan Sache, 23 July 2015