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Esparragosa de Lares (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Esparragosa de Lares - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

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Presentation of Esparragosa de Lares

The municipality of Esparragosa de Lares (925 inhabitants in 2019; 20,700 ha; municipal website) is located 180 km east of Badajoz and 50 km south-west of Herrera del Duque. The municipality is composed of the villages of Esparragosa de Lares and Galizuela (5 inh.).

Esparragosa de Lares was already settled in the Roman times, as exidenced by the remains of a villa found in La Sevillana; the excavation was completed in 1987-1989, before the flooding of the area by river Zújar in the aftermath of the erection of the Serena dam. The villa, dated to the 4th century, has kept a mosaic pavement. Recent excavations appear to indicate that the Roman mansion of Leuciana, listed on itineraries, was located on the bank of the Zújar, and not in Talarrubias or Puebla de Alcor as believed by some scholars.
After the Muslim conquest, Berber tribes built the castle of Lares and the village of Galizuela. In 750, they established a second settlement near an old Roman fountain, which would be for centuries the only supply of freshwater in Esparragosa.

The area was reconquerred by King Ferdinand III the Saint. In 1236, Esteban de Belmonte, Grand Master of the Order of the Temple, used the reconquerred town and castle of Capilla as a base for attacking the remaining Moorish strongholds in the neighborhood. He seized and demolished the castle of Lares and incorporated several settlement, Esparragosa included, to the Kingdom of León. When the Order of the Temple was suppressed by Clement V in 1309, its possessions were shared; Galizuela was offered to the Order of Alcántara, which established there the Commandery pf Casas Viejas, part of the Serena district depending on the Magacela Priorate.
An inn was established close to the Old Fountain, whose speciality was aspragus (espárragos) commonly fopund in the neighboring mountains. A settlement soon grew up around the inn, which was granted Municipal Ordinances, and, subsequently, the status of villa by the Order of Alcántara. Known as Esparragosa la Vieja, the village was incorporated to Galizuela de Lares, being renamed to Esparragosa de Lares. The town soon outgrew Galizuela, which caused the transfer of the seat of the commandery to Esparragosa.

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

Flag of Esparragosa de Lares

The flag and arms of Esparragosa de Lares, adopted on 7 November 1995 by the Municipal Council and validated on 8 November 1994 and 13 December 1996 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order issued on 10 June 1997 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 26 June 1997 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 74, pp. 4,824-4,825 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Horizontally divided white-blue, a red triangle at hoist. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full colors.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Or a cross flory vert, 1b. Gules the statue of the Virgin of the Cave, 2. Argent an asparagus vert surrounded by two asparagus proper emerging from the base vert with the silhouette of the Sierra de Lares. A bordure vair wavy. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The first quarter represents ripe crops and the Order of Alcántara.
The second quarter represents the Virgin of the Cave.
The lower quarter forms a rebus of the town's name. The asparagus represent the Esparraguera inn, surrounded by the two population nuclei that emerged nearby. The hilly base represents the Sierra de Lares.
The bordure alludes to the rivers bordering the municipal territory.
[Unofficial website]

The Virgin of the Cave is kept in a chapel recognized as a sanctuary in the 13th century by the Prior of Magacela. It is located on the southern slope of the Sierra de Lares, at an elevation of 679 m above sea level, forming an eagle's nest among the rocks. Access to the porch required climbing 315 steps.
The miraculous statue, indeed a replica of the original statue that disappeared during the Civil War, is associated to a barocco altarpiece. The Virgin was recently proclaimed Honor Mayor of Esparragosa de Lares by the Municipal Council.
[Municipal website]

The Virgin of the Cave is invoked in August to get rain in autumn, as reported by a famous child song popular all over Spain:

Que llueva, que llueva		Let it rain, let it rain,
La Virgen de la Cueva		The Virgin of the Cave,
Los pajaritos cantan,		Little birds sing,
Las nubes se levantan.		The clouds rise
¡Que sí, que no,		Oh yes, oh no,
que caiga un chaparrón!		Let a rain shower fall.

Que siga lloviendo,		Let is still rain, let it still rain,
Los pájaros corriendo		Let the birds run
Florezca la pradera		And the meadow flowers
Al sol de la primavera.		Under the spring sun.
¡Que sí, que no,		Oh yes oh no!
que llueva a chaparrón,		Let the rain fall down
que no me moje yo!		And let me not soak!

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020