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Capileira (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Capileira - Image from the Símbolos de Granada website, 21 April 2014

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Presentation of Capileira

The municipality of Capileira (559 inhabitants in 2008; 5,700 ha; municipal website) is located in the Alpujarra Mountains, 70 km from Granada. Located 1,436 m asl, Capileira is the second highest village in Andalusia; the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén (3,482 m) is located on its municipal territory.

The early settlers of Capileira are not known. The village was named after the Latin name capilaris, "the highest place". Built on the edge of the Poqueira Ravine, Capileira, once a mountain stronghold with a very difficult access, resisted for long to the Muslim conquest and, subsequently, to the Christian reconquest. During the Muslim period, the village was fiercely disputed between Boabdil, the last Moor ruler of Granada, and his uncle El Zagal. After the fall of Granada, the Muslims remained in Capileira and in several villages of the Alpujarra, where they were known as Moriscos. They revolted in 1568 and were eventually expelled from Spain by King Philip II, being replaced by Christian colonists from all over Spain. The village of Capileira has preserved its three traditional boroughs and its ancient, flat-roofed white houses built along steep and tortuous narrow streets.

Ivan Sache, 27 June 2009

Symbols of Capileira

The flag (photo, photo) and arms of Capileira, adopted on 15 April 2009 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 22 April 2009 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 4 May 2009 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 2 June 2009 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 104, p. 42 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 3:2 (length to width), horizontally divided into three stripes of equal size, from top to bottom, blue, yellow and green. In the center, the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Shield in Spanish shape. Per fess, 1. Or a branch with three leaves of oak (Quercus pyrenaica) vert, 2. Vert two coupled chimneys argent with opening sable. Grafted in base azure a mountain argent with a peak issuant surmounted by a snow star (Plantago nivalis) argent seeded or. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The symbols (municipal website) were designed by María Josefa Nieto [Ideal, 27 September 2009].
The branch of oak alludes to the Pyrenean oak, Quercus pyrenaica Willd., a species endemic of South-West Europe (France, Spain and Portugal) and North Africa (Morocco) and protected by the law in Andalusia. Locally known as roble, the Pyrenean oak is called rebollo or melojo in other regions of Spain.
The high chimneys found on most houses of the village are characteristic of Capileira, which was registered in 1982 as a Place of Historical and Artistical Interest.
The mountain represents the Sierra Nevada. The snow star (photos), Plantago nivalis Boiss., is a flower endemic to the Sierra Nevada and, therefore, the symbol of the Sierra Nevada.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Granada (PDF file)]

The Royal Academy of History rejected the coat of arms proposed in 1994. The Academy recognized that the memoir supporting the proposed symbols includes a detailed account of the history of Capileira. "But, unfortunately, nothing from this amount of data justifies the exclusive use of the proposed symbol. The representation of the Sierra Nevada, the plant called "snow star" and the pomegranate would be appropriate for many other Alpujarra villages. Moreover, the realistic representation of the peaks of the mountain and the detailed drawing of the plant do not comply with the schematization proper to good heraldic style. The villages of the Province of Granada should not incorporate to their own arms those assigned by the Catholic Monarchs to the conquered kingdom." Accordingly, the Academy required the Municipal Council to design new arms.
[Bolet&iaucte;n de la Real Academia de Historia, 1994, 191, 2:400]

The file submitted by the Municipal Council for the adoption of the municipal coat of arms was proclaimed null and void by a Decree adopted on 13 November 1997 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 9 December 1997 in the official gazette of Andalucia, No. 142, p. 14,542 (text). This indicates that the Municipal Council failed to submit a new proposal in due time.

Ivan Sache, 21 April 2014