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Olinda, Pernambuco (Brazil)

Last modified: 2012-03-25 by ian macdonald
Keywords: pernambuco | olinda | bicolor: horizontal (blue | yellow) | coat of arms | lion: passant (red) | orb (yellow) |
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[Flag of Olinda, 
PE (Brazil)] image by André Pires Godinho and Joseph McMillan

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Description of the Flag

Adopted by municipal law 2388 of 20 November 1963. The colors are the traditional colors of Duarte Coelho, first governor of Pernambuco and the city's founder in 1537.
André Pires Godinho, 22 February 2003

The municipality of Olinda (378,537 inhabitants in 2010, therefore the 3rd most populous municipality in Pernambuco; 44 sq. km) is located in the Recife Metropolitan Area, 7 km of Recife. One of the best preserved colonial towns in Brazil, Olinda was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982. The town was the first "Brazilian Capital of Culture" (2006).

Olinda was established by Duarte Coelho, Captain of Pernambuco since 9 March 1535, near an Indian settlement called Marim. Located on a wide natural harbour and surrounded by hills, the place was easy to defend; the soil was fertile and water was abundant. The local tradition says that Duarte Coelho said "Ólinda situação para se construir uma vila" (The beautiful location to build a village), thus explaining the origin of the town's name. The year of foundation of the town is unknown, but it grew so quickly that the "vila" of Olinda was established in 1537. On 12 March 1537, Duarte Coelho sent to King of Portugal John III the Olinda Chart ("Foral"), which listed all the inhabited placed and inhabitants of the town. The beach was fortified and the town increased downhill to the sea and port, and to the hinterland, where sugar mills were set up. Timber extraction and sugar production made of Olinda an extremely wealthy colonial town, challenging the Royal Court by its luxury and ostentation. In the 16th century, the plan of the town was established, the hills being settled by religious foundations. The Carmelites (1580), the Jesuits (1583), the Franciscans (1585) and the Benedictines (1586) used Olinda as an outpost for the conversions of the Indians and the eventual conquest of their land. On 16 February 1630, the Dutch invaded Pernambuco. They burned down Olinda on 24 November 1631, after having taken away all the material required to build their houses in Recife. A new settlement was established on the islands of the harbour. The Dutch were expelled on 27 January 1654 and Olinda was slowly rebuilt. In spite of having been granted the status of "cidade" in 1676, Olinda was superseded by Recife as the regional capital. The establishment of the Law Academy in 1827 and the fad of the sea baths caused the rebirth of Olinda, linked to Recife by a tramway inaugurated in the beginning of the 20th century.

The flag of Olinda is prescribed by Law No. 2,388, adopted in 1963. The flag is horizontally divided blue-yellow with the modern municipal coat of arms in the middle. The coat of arms is "Azure a globe or charged with a bend gules ensigned with a cross or a chief of the second a lion of the third armed of the first. The shield surmounted with a mural crown azure masoned argent". On the flag, the horizontal division of the shield matches the horizontal division of the flag.

The colors and elements of the flag are derived from older local symbols. The historical coat of arms of Olinda is made of a globe ensigned with a Latin cross, surrounded by a zodiac with the Latin motto "Deus Salvator Noster" (God Our Savior). The coat of arms appears on the frontispiece of the St. Sebastian church, located in Varadouro, on the southern side of the Olinda Regional Museum and on the Rosário fountain. The coat of arms of Duarte Coelho is "Azure a lion gules a chief argent five stars gules a base vert a cross sable a bordure azure five castles argent", as far as the colors can be guessed correctly from the source.
Ivan Sache, 6 March 2012

1957 flag

[First flag of Olinda, image by Ivan Sache, 6 March 2012

The first modern flag of Olinda, designed by Alexandre Alves Dias, was prescribed by Law No. 1,255, adopted in 1957. The flag is horizontally divided green-white with, in canton, a white shield charged with two green triangles at the top and a bend inscribed "OLINDA".
Ivan Sache, 6 March 2012