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Benalup-Casas Viejas (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-09-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Benalup-Casas Viejas - Image from the Símbolos de Cadíz website, 5 May 2014

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Presentation of Benalup-Casas Viejas

The municipality of Benalup-Casas Viejas (6,991 inhabitants in 2013; 6,070 ha; municipal website) is located 60 km south-east of Cádiz.

Benalup-Casas Viejas was already settled in the late Paelothilic, as evidenced by the rocky paintings of the Tajo de Las Furas. In the Moslim period, the Benalup tower, built in the 13th century in Mudéjar style, was of strategic significance; Benalup might be an Arab name meaning "the sons of the she-wolf" or might be derived from Latin Pennalupi, meaning "the wolf's rock".
The Moorish settlement was succeeded by the village of Casas Viejas, established 2 km away form the tower around a chapel erected in 1555 by Friar Domingo de Tebas. The name of the village (Old House) probably refers to the farmer's huts built there.

The Casas Viejas Incident occurred in January 1933, a few days after the short-lived anarcho-syndicalist insurrection that had broken out in Barcelone, Madrid and Valencia. On 11 January, a group of Anarchists proclaimed libertarian communism in Casas Viejas; two guards were killed during the attack of the barracks of the Civil Guard. The assaulters withdrew to the Seisdedos (Six Fingers) hut, which was set up on fire by the Civil Guard, causing the death of eight men and women. The troop sought revenge on the villagers, who had allegedly supported the insurgents, shooting another twelve men. Public and parliamentary outrage over the massacre drove the government from office and increased reluctancy against the Second Republic. Some historians therefore believe that the Casas Viejas Incident was one of the stepping stones that led to the Civli War.
The main sites of the Casas Viejas Incident, including the barracks of the Civil Guard and the Seisdedos hut, have been registered as an historical site on the General Listing of the Andalusian Historical Heritage by a Decree adopted on 27 July 2009 by the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage and published on 21 August 2009 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 163, pp. 55-60 (text). The Decree includes a detailed record of the event and of the places.

The town was for long known under two names colloquially used as fully interchangeable synonyms: Casas Viejas, and Benalup, sometimes Benalup de Sidonia, recalling that the village belonged to the municipality of Medina Sidonia.
The municipality of Benalup was established by Decree No. 63, adopted on 20 March 1991 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 26 March 1991 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 22, pp. 1,349-1,350 (text). The separation was previously approved on 11 April 1989 by the Municipal Council of Medina Sidonia and on 15 January 1990 by the Provincial Council of Cádiz.
The municipality was renamed Benalup-Casas Viejas by Decree No. 128, adopted on 18 May 1999 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 10 June 1999 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 66 (text). The change was validated by the Provincial Council of Cádiz, by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, and by the Register of Local Entities of the Ministry of Public Administration.

Ivan Sache, 28 March 2014

Symbols of Benalup-Casas Viejas

The flag (photo) and arms of Benalup-Casas Viejas, adopted on 15 March 1992 by the Municipal Council and validated on 12 November 1993 by the Royal Academy of History, are prescribed by Decree No. 18, adopted on 25 January 1994 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 11 March 1994 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 29, p. 1,716 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3, horizontally divided in two equal stripes, the upper stripe green and the lower stripe red. In the cenyrt of the flag is placed the crowned municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Gules a tower or port and windows azure ensigned by a crow holding a bread in the beak all proper. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

In the report of the Royal Academy of History, Faustino Menéndez Pidal explains that the green stripe represents agriculture and hope in the future of the new municipality. The red stripe recalls the tragic Casas Viejas Event. A local interepretation says that red represents poppies. Faustino Menéndez Pidal further explains that the new municipality of Benalup, as expected, lacked proper arms.
The tower recalls the origin of the municipality, while the crow (cuervo) recalls the town's patron saint, the prophet Elias, originally venerated in the neighbouring Carmelite monastery of Garganta del Cuervo. The Bible (Kings, 17) reports that hermit Elias was fed by a crow, which supplied him every day with a piece of bread.
While the flag was a new creation, the coat of arms is much older than reported by the Academy. A similar coat of arms was already shown on the municipal seal used in 1937. It appears to have been designed in 1926 when the parish priest of Casas Viejas, Francisco Galardo, and the Mayor of Medina Sidonia, Antonio María Puelles, decided to change the name of Casas Viejas to Benalup de Sidonia.
[Historia de Casas Viejas blog; Historia de Casas Viejas blog]

Klaus-Michael Schneider & Ivan Sache, 6 May 2014