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Valencia de Alcántara (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-11-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Valencia de Alcántara - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 March 2020

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Presentation of Valencia de Alcántara

The municipality of Valencia de Alcántara (5,397 inhabitants in 2019 vs. 15,636 in 1940; 59,483 ha; municipal website) is located on the borders with Portugal and the Province of Badajoz, 100 km west of Cáceres and 80 km north of A HREF="es-ba-ba.html">Badajoz. The municipality is composed of the town of Valencia de Alcántara and of the villages of Alcorneo (39 inh.), El Pino (108 inh.), Jola (33 inh.), La Aceña de la Borrega (143 inh.), La Fontañera (125 inh.), Las Casiñas (129 inh.), Las Huertas de Cansa (194 inh., including Arroyos de Abajo, 21 inh.), Las Lanchuelas (86 inh.), and San Pedro de los Majarretes (33 inh.).

Valencia de Alcántara was already settled in the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by the 41 dolmens that form one of the biggest Neolithic funerary complex in Europe.
According to Livy, the Roman Proconsul Decimus Junius Brutus offered to the Lusitanians, in the aftermath of the assassination of Viriathus (139 BC), a domain and an fortified camp (oppidum) where they would ld settle and remain under Roman control. The location of the oppidum, named Valentia, was the matter of a fierce historiographical controversy; scholars now most agree that the oppidum was indeed established on the site of the present-day's town or nearby. A number of Roman remains were found in the town, for instance, two bridges, an aqueduct and two fountains, as well as a dense network of secondary roads that clearly indicate the presence of a urban or semi-urban nucleus.

After the Christian reconquest in the 13th century, the old Muslim fortress was revamped into a powerful fortified citadel of strategic significance in the subsequent wars with Portugal. The citadel, nearly suppressed, was rebuilt as prescribed by a Royal Order issued on 26 February 1765. Antonio Azúar reports that in 1828, the walls were of 6 m in height on 1.5 m in width. The citadel was defended by the three fortified gates of San Francisco, Alcántara and Las Huertas, the latter being the only still there today, as well as seven bastions. The castle proper had two gates, one heading to the town, and the other allowing escape to the river, and four bastions. Progressively absorbed by private houses, the walls are now hardly visible.
On 7 October 1497, Infante Isabella (1470-1498), the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, married Manuel the Fortunate (1469-1521), King of Portugal (1495-1521), in the Our Lady of Rocamadour church.

San Pedro de los Majarretes is mostly known for the Franciscan convent where Juan de Garavito y Vilela de Sanabria (1499-1562) took the coat in 1616, as Friar Pedro de Alcántara; he was canonized, as St. Peter of Alcántara, in 1669 by Pope Clement IX.

Ivan Sache, 23 March 2020

Flag of Valencia de Alcántara

The flag and arms of Valencia de Alcántara are prescribed by an Order issued on 21 April 1997 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 31 May 1997 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 62, pp. 4,044-4,046 (text).
The symbols were adopted on 22 May 1995 by the Municipal Council. The Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura proposed to remove from the coat of arms the cartouche and the Cross of Alcántara, to be replaced by a bordure or with four Crosses of Alcántara vert. On 12 December 1995 and 10 September 1996, the Municipal Council refused the proposed modifications and definitively adopted the original design.
The proposed design is not a new creation, since it incorporates elements of an older coat of arms, especially the Cross of Alcántara supporting the shield, which has been used for more than 200 years. The use of the Cross of Alcántara cannot be forbidden to Valencia de Alcántara since the Military Order of Alcántara was suppressed by a Decree issued on 29 April 1931.
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, in proportions 2:3. Composed of five vertical stripes in proportions 4:15, 1:15, 1:3, 1:15 and 4:15, respectively, from hoist to fly, blue, white, red, white, and green, respectively.
Coat of arms: Gules a castle or masoned sable surrounded by two keys affronty or on waves azure and argent. The shield supported by a Cross of Alcántara vert. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed. The whole placed on a cartouche inscribed "MUY NOBLE MUY LEAL AND ANTIGUA VILLA DE VALENCIA DE ALCANTARA" sable.

Ivan Sache, 23 March 2020