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Fuentes de Oñoro (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Fuentes de Oñoro - Image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2011

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Presentation of Fuentes de Oñoro

The municipality of Fuentes de Oñoro (1,375 inhabitants in 2010; 5,719 ha; municipal website) is located in the southwest of Salamanca Province, on the border with Portugal, 125 km from Salamanca. The municipality is made of the three villages of Fuentes de Oñoro (capital; 257 inh. in 2006), Colonia de la Estación (412 inh.) and Nuevo Poblado (662 inh.).

Fuentes de Oñoro was originally known as Fontes Alnorum, Latin for "The Alders' Fountain". A settlement probably emerged around five fountains located near the river in a place planted with alders; remains of a necropolis were actually found near the road to Galapero. The Berrocal Cave, aka the Lions' Cave has engravings representing two lions about to fight, a bull, a dog, a heart and a cross, indicating a possible Visigothic settlement in the neighborhood.
Fuentes de Oñoro was resettled in the 13th century by the Order of Alcántara, on behalf of King Alfonso IX. Following the Treaty of Alcañices, signed in 1297 by Spain and Portugal, Fuentes de Oñoro became a fortified border village, incorporated into the alfoz (group of villages) of Ciudad Rodrigo and subsequently involved in all the conflicts between Spain and Portugal.

After the death of King of Castile Peter I the Cruel in 1369, the Garci-López family, from Ciudad Rodrigo, took the party of Ferdinand I of Portugal, so that the whole alfoz of Ciudad Rodrigo was incorporated to Portugal. King Henry II of Castile eventually exiled the Garci-López to Portugal; the peace signed in 1371 allocated Ciudad Rodrigo to Portugal as the dowry of Leonor, Henry's daughter, expected to marry the King of Portugal. Since the marriage never happened, Ciudad Rodrigo remained Castilian. In 1474, King Henry IV died and was succeeded by his sister Isabel; Alfonso V of Portugal, the uncle of Joan la Beltraneja, born in adultery from Joan of Portugal, Henry's wife, invaded and looted the alfoz of Ciudad Rodrigo, including Fuentes de Oñoro. The peace signed on 18 September 1479 allowed the resettlement of Fuentes de Oñoro; the Portuguese Restoration War that started in 1640 caused a new round of destruction, so that Fuentes de Oñoro had to be resettled once again in 1669. The War of the Spanish Succession that broke out in 1702 caused the invasion of the border area by the Anglo-Portuguese troops.
However, the most significant war act that took place in Fuentes de Oñoro was the battle that opposed on 1-3 May 1811 Napoléon's troops to the Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish coalition. The French troops, commanded by Marshal Masséna, aimed at lifting the siege of Almeida; after three weeks of fighting, Almeida could not be reached. The two parties claimed the victory, which is listed on the Paris Arc de Triomphe while a street in London is named for Fuentes de Oñoro.

In 1886, the inauguration of the railway station made of Fuentes de Oñoro the main link between Portugal and the rest of Europe. The establishment of a customs post, of a Portuguese consulate and of a telegraph post required the building of the new borough of Colonia de la Estación (The Station's Colony), located 1 km apart from the old village. In 1906, Colonia de la Estación was the first village in the Salamanca Province to be supplied with electricity.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 2011

Symbols of Fuentes de Oñoro

The flag of Fuentes de Oñoro is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 23 August 1996 by the Salamanca Provincial Government, signed on 29 August 1996 by the President of the Government, and published on 12 September 1996 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 177, p. 6,164 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular flag, with proportions 1:1, white with blue flanks of 1/5 of the flag's side. In the middle of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms in full colors and crowned, of height 3/5 of the flag's side.

The coat of arms of Fuentes de Oñoro (municipal website) is prescribed by Decree No. 255, published on 9 October 1955 in the Spanish official gazette.
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: The shield is based on the "Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro". It is oval, surmounted with a crown or with four pearls argent between the florets and set with jewels. The mantling is argent. The shield is quartered with an escutcheon in the middle.
1. Gules (red) a cross or charged on top with "JHS" and on the horizontal arm with "SANTA BÁRBARA". The St. Barbara Cross erected on a small hillock is probably a tribute to St. Barbara, the patron saint of gunners.
2. Argent a lion rampant gules. This is the symbol of the heroism of the fighters.
3. Azure (blue) a castle or, the symbol of the victory against the Napoleonic troops.
4. Or (yellow) three trees vert (green), recalling the three elms located near the gate of the church, to which some enemies were tied and shot.
Inescutcheon: Azure a ciborium or. It recalls the parish priest Luis Silva who saved the Eucharist from the besieged church on 3 May 1811.

The original coat of arms appears to have been subsequently "standardized", with a modern shape and the Royal Spanish crown.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 2011