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Loja (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Loja - Image from the Símbolos de Granada website, 15 May 2014

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Presentation of Loja

The municipality of Loja (22,137 inhabitants in 2008; 45,470 ha; municipal website) is the westernmost municipality in the province, located 50 km west of Granada.

Loja was founded, according to the local myth, by Tubal, Noah's nephew, who called it Alfeia. There is evidence, however, that the Phenicians founded there the town of Tricolia, a significant trading center in the 8th century AD. After the Roman conquest, the town was renamed Lascivis, alluding to the pleasures and waters available in the town. The Moors transformed Lascivis into a big, fortified town named Medina Lauxa ("The Guard Citadel"). Medina Lauxa is the birth town of the geographer, historian and poet Ibn Al-Jatib (1313-1374), one of the most famous Arabo-Andalusian writers, appointed twice Vizir of the Nasrid kingdom and subsequently exiled, and, eventually, murdered in Morocco.
Fiercely disputed during the civil wars of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Loja, considered as "the gate and the key of the Kingdom of Granada" was besieged by Ferdinand the Catholic in 1482, to no avail, and eventually surrendered in 1486 after a three-day siege. The famous knight Martín Vazquez de Arce, known as El Doncel de Sigüenza, was killed in July 1486, aged 24, during the event. The fall of Medina Lauxa had a great psychological impact, forcing 5,000 Muslims to fled to Granada and announcing the definitive suppression of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada.

Loja is the birth town of General Ramón María de Narváez y Campo (1800-1868), first Duke of Valencia, known as the "Espadón de Loja" (The Loja Swashbuckler). During the first Carlist War, Narváez supported Queen Isabel II and contributed to the victories of Mendigorría and Arlabán; exiled in France because of his rivalry with General Espartero, Prime Minister in 1837-1839, Narváez created in Paris the Spanish Military Order, aiming at overthrowing Espartero's government. Back to Spain in 1843, Narváez defeated Espartero in Torrejón de Ardoz, survived a murder attempt and was appointed Prime Minister in 1844, when Isabel II came of age. Involved in the redaction of the 1845 Constitution, Narváez resigned in 1851, was called back in 1856 and repressed the revolutionary movements. Isabel II was overthrown short after his death. Narváez is recalled in Loja by his mausoleum, made of Carrara marble by the sculptor Antonio Moltó, his palace, currently housing the municipal administration, and his gardens, located near the village of Plines.
The Loja Peasant Uprising occurred in June 1861. Led by Rafael Pérez del Álamo, poor day labourers assaulted on 28 June the barracks of the Civil Guard at Iznájar, asking for the proclamation of the Republic and the suppression of the Kingdom. They marched against Loja, where they hoisted on 30 June the Republican flag and proclaimed a kind of Republican rule. The uprising, which had spread to neighbouring towns but could not have reached Granada, was overthrown on 4 July after a bloody battle in Loja. Some 100 rebels were shot and another 400 deported. Queen Isabel II proclaimed in 1862 a general amnesty.
Loja got international fame in 1933 when the town was used as the background for the country of Sylvania in the Marx Brothers' movie Duck Soup.

Ivan Sache, 16 July 2009

Symbols of Loja

The flag, arms and motto of Loja, submitted on 23 June 2005 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 5 July 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 Juily 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 140, pp. 12-13 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, like the traditional flag, divided in two equal horizontal stripes, the upper purple and the lower white, in the center, on the two stripes, the coat of arms of the municipality.
Coat of arms: Elliptical shield. Per fess, 1. Azure a bridge or surmounted by a castle of the same in chief a chain or from which hangs a key or and the motto "Loxa Flor entre espinas" surrounded by steep mounts argent, 2. A river Genil proper. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed and surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Motto: Loxa flor entre espinas [Loja, Flower between Spines]

The coat of arms dates back to the seizure of the town by the Catholic Monarchs in 1486; the title of ciudad was awarded to the town, as well as privileges and a coat of arms. The key is a symbol of strength, the town being the key to the Kingdom of Granada. The motto, granted by Queen Isabel, compares the municipality, beautiful and fertile between the mountains, to a rose living in a harsh environment.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Granada (PDF file)]

Ivan Sache, 1 July 2009