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Alhama de Granada (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Alhama de Granada - Image from the Símbolos de Granada website, 20 April 2014

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Presentation of Alhama de Granada

The municipality of Alhama de Granada (6,154 inhabitants in 2013; 43,300 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the Province of Málaga, 60 km south-east of Granada.

Alhama has been identified to the Roman settlement mentioned as Artigi / Artigis by Pliny the Elder. Remains of Roman baths, as well as several epigraphic artefacts and coins have been indeed found in Alhama, but there is no evidence that Artigi was located there. Moreover, the remains of a bridge and roads, often presented as the evidence of the location of a significant Roman settlement, might be of later, Arab origin.

Alhama, named for the Arab word al-hamma, "a spring of hot water", was located on the borders of the Provinces of Granada and Málaga; accordingly, the town was involved in the political and armed struggle of Al-Andalus, especially during the Muladi revolt (11th century). The importance of the town increased during the Nasrid rule over Granada (13th-15th centuries), when Alhama watched the road between Granada and the ports of Málaga and Vélez-Málaga.
The medieval town of Alhama was erected on the top of the gorge of river Alhama, which protected its northern and southern entrances. The western and eastern sides of the town were protected by fortified walls. Moreover, the town was protected from Christian raids by a network of watch towers erected in the neighborhood, of which three have been preserved (Torresolana, la Luna and Buenavista).
Located 2 km from the town, the Arab baths, today incorporated in a modern spa (website), are among the best preserved in Andalusia. They were probably built in the turn of the 13th-14th centuries, when the Nasrid dynasty succeeded the Almohad dynasty in Granada. Mentioned in 1350 by the geographer Ibn Batuta and described in 1497 by the German traveller Jeronim Münzer, the baths of Alhama were highly prized by the Nasrid court of Granada. Following the Islamic use, the baths are divided into three sections supplied with cold, tepid and warm water.

The Christians troops seized Alhama by surprise on 1 March 1482; the event was a main step towards the conquest of Granada. The Moors attempted several time to re-conquer this strategic place; since military operations failed, they proposed to pay 30,000 golden doblas, to deliver the town of Zahara, and to release all Christian prisoners, again, to no avail.

Ivan Sache, 20 April 2014

Symbols of Alhama de Granada

The flag of Alhama de Granada (photo) was approved by a Resolution adopted on 29 February 2000 by the Municipal Council, signed the next day by the Mayor, and published on 22 July 2000 in the officlal gazette of Andalusia, No. 84, p. 11,998 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, of three units in length on two units in width, green with a crimson diagonal stripe crossing it from the hoist's upper angle to the fly's lower angle. The proportions of the colours shall be two of green for one of crimson. The flag shall bear in the center, on the crismon stripe, the coat of arms of Alhama de Granada, fully represented with the proper colours of its charges and fields.

The process iof the registration of the flag appears to have been stopped there. Accordingly, the flag is unofficial.
The Municipal Council decided to start (again) the process of "rehabilitation" of the municipal flag and arms by a Resolution adopted on 5 November 2010 by the Municipal Council, signed the same day by the Mayor, and published on 27 January 2011 in the officlal gazette of Andalusia, No. 18, p. 106 (text).

The flag was designed by Andrés García Maldonado (La Bandera Oficial y el Escudo Heráldico de la Ciudad de Alhama de Granada, February 1994), today Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce of Málaga. Born in 1948 in Alhama. García Maldonado (website) moved to Málaga in 1967 and to Rincón de la Victoria in 1982. However, he never forgot his home town, "a bridge between Granada and Málaga", where he still owns a house; he was awarded on 10 June 2010 the title of "Prefered Child" of Alhama. A journalist, historian, lawyer and professor, García Maldonado contributed to the foundation of the University of Málaga (1973). He presided several associations, such as the Málaga Press Association, and local circles. He founded cultural festivals, such as the Alhama Festival, the Andaslusian Song Festival and the Andalusian Sea Festival, and presided official events, such as the Centenary of Pablo Picasso and the Centenary of the Andalusian Earthquakes (1984-1986). The latter event involved more than 100 towns and villages and peaked with the reconstruction in Alhama of the Monument to Universal Solidarity, eventually inaugurated in 2003. García Maldonado released in 1992 the "Manifesto for the Concord between Peoples and Cultures", calling for the removal of the opposition of cultures and nations from the historical, cultural and traditional commemorations.
García Maldonado published some 60 books and more than 100 monographs on the history of the Provinces of Granada and Málaga, with a special emphasis on Alhama; he was awarded the Spanish Writers' Gold Medal in 1996. Also a playwright, he wrote in 1969 La reclamación de Judas, forbidden by the government after the first performance held at the Málaga Experimental Theater.

The Royal Academy of History turned down in 1992 the flag proposed by the Municipal Council. While the Academy accepted the general design and valdiated the colours - green for the Arab past of the town and crimson for the reconquest by the kings of Castile -, it rejected the addition on the flag of the "coat of arms from the Historical Archives", as adequate in its representation and colours for a seal but inadequate for a flag.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de Historia, 1992, 189, 3:513]

The coat of arms of Alhama de Granada, of long, unofficial use, is "Azure a castle argent masoned and port and windows sable on a base vert issuant from the castle two armed arms argent holding a key sable the central tower of the castle ensigned with a pomegranate proper faceted gules and leaved vert the tower accosted by two ladders sable the base charged with a third ladder argent placed per fess. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed."
These arms were granted in 1689, together with a charter of privileges and confirmations. The coat of arms represents the assault of the fortifications of the Moorish town. The two keys stand for the two gates heading to Granada and Málaga, respectively.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Granada (PDF file)]

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 May 2014