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Guijelo (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Guijelo - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 February 2014


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Presentation of Guijelo

The municipality of Guijelo (5,971 inhabitants in 2009; 6,323 ha; municipal website) is located in the southeast of the Salamanca Province, 50 km from Salamanca. The municipality of Guijuelo is made of the town of Guijuelo, of the submunicipal entity of Salvatierra (340 inh.), and of the villages of Cabezuela de Salvatierra (62 inh.) and Palacios de Salvatierra (74 inh.).
The town is built on the three hills of El Torreón, El Lomo and El Teso, forming a horseshoe, five km west of river Tormes. Guijuelo was a hamlet (hijuelo) of the domain of Salvatierra de Tormes, granted in 1429 by King John II to the Duke of Alba. El Torreón, the emblematic monument of the town, dates back to this period; the ruins are made of an arch and a part of a vault of a church probably built in 1425 for Infante Catherine, the sister of John II and lord of Salvatierra.

Guijuelo is the Spanish capital of ham and other pork meats (website), which explains the growth of the population of the town (1,457 inhabitants in 1900, 3,283 in 1950 and 5,082 in 2000). Guijuelo is among the richest towns in Spain when considering the per capita income.
Located 1,010 m asl, the town enjoys cold and dry winters favoring the maturation of ham (usually 30-36 months), for which the town has been famous since the Middle Ages. The Guijuelo ham is one of the tasty Iberian hams (Jamón Iberico) / mountain hams (Jamón serrano) protected by a Designation of Origin. To be eligible, ham should be produced from Iberic pigs (that is, pure-bred Iberic pigs or crossed pigs with no more than 25% of Durco-Jersey bred), following strict terms of reference in all the steps of pig breeding and ham manufacturing.
The speciality of Guijuelo, the highly prized acorn Iberic ham (Jamón Ibérico de Bellota), considered as the top Spanish ham, is produced from pigs fed exclusively with mountain grass and acorns; to prevent fraud, the pieces of ham are tagged with a red lead seal and a silver mark showing the year of production; controls are very tough, including a chromatographic analysis of ham. In 2005, 342,808 pieces of certified ham were sold.

Ivan Sache, 2 February 2014


Symbols of Guijelo

The flag of Guijuelo is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 31 January 2001 by the Municipal Council, signed on 22 February 2001 by the Mayor, and published on 9 March 2001 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 49, p. 4,009 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular panel, with proportions 1:1, divided per saltire in four parts, the upper and lower parts red, the hoist and fly parts blue. In the middle of the flag is placed the crowned municipal coat of arms of Guijuelo.

The coat of arms of Guijuelo (unofficial website) is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 28 March 1958 by the Spanish Government and published on 14 April 1958 in the Spanish official gazette. Representing the faith, patriotic feelings and commitment to work of the inhabitants of the town, the coat of arms was designed by Mr. Talón, based on a historical memoir submitted by Augusto de Álvaro Martín, secretary of the municipal administration.

The coat of arms initially proposed was made of a shield placed on a golden cartouche and surmounted by a Marquis' coronet decorated with gems. The shield showed El Torreón on a field gules, surrounded by a thick bordure azure charged with the Cross of Pelagius at the top, a bee on each side, and, at the bottom, a knife, a chopper, and a pork's hook. El Torreón symbolizes the old history of the town, the Cross of Pelagius symbolizes the Christian faith, the bees are a symbol of work, and the iron tools represent the main industry in the town. The Royal Academy of History turned down the proposal, arguing that tools specific to pork meat industry are unknown to heraldry; the Academy recommended to represent the local industry by branches of oak fructed with acorns.
The amended, adopted design skipped the cartouche, changed the colour of the bordure to azure, changed the tools for branches of oak and changed the Marquis' coronet for a Duke's coronet. It blazons "Gules a ruined church or masoned sable, a bordure azure charged in chief with a cross trefoiled or enriched with gems, the rest of the bordure charged with three bees or fessed sable winged argent and four trefoiled branches of holly oak made in the middle of an acorn or cupuled argent and two leaves vert fimbriated argent, the bees in the flanks and base the branches in the four corners. The shield surmounted with a Duke's coronet or adorned with gems."
At the time, several erroneous versions of the coat of arms were used. The shield was sometimes represented with only two bees, with a Marquis' coronet, with the field argent; the shield was sometimes placed on a cartouche or on leaves.

The today's design was fixed in 2001 when the municipal flag was adopted - but the 1958 Decree does not seem to have been superseded by a newer Decree describing the modernized arms. The shield was re- designed in Spanish shape, rounded-off in base, the cartouche and leaves were eventually dropped, a Royal Spanish crown was used instead of a Duke's coronet. The ruined church, originally or masoned sable should have been made argent, looking like stone.
The colour of the ruined church was, undoubtedly, not changed (photo). This is confirmed by the mosaic copy of the coat of arms (70 cm x 40 cm) designed in 2003 by the Narvma workshop (photo), upon request of the municipal administration.

Ivan Sache, 2 February 2014