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Berzocana (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-11-06 by ivan sache
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Flag of Berzocana - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 March 2020

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Presentation of Berzocana

The municipality of Berzocana (452 inhabitants in 2016, 13,359 ha; municipal website) is located 100 km east of Cáceres.

Berzocana was already settled in the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the Berzocana Treasure. Kept in the National Archeological Museum in Madrid and considerd among the most significant Celtic jewels in Iberia, the treasure is made of two golden torcs decorated with geometrical incisions of 750-950 g each. The Cancho del Risquillo cave is decorated with semi-naturalistic paintings repsenting animals and hunting scenes. Several four-fingered hands, also found in other caves in the area, appear to reflect the ritual amputation of the little finger of the right hand.
The Castrejón and La Desehilla fortified settlements were established in the Iron Age.
[Martín Almagro Basch. 1969. De orfebrería céltica: El depósito de Berzocana y un brazalete del Museo Arqueológico Nacional. Trabajos de Prehistoria 26, 275-287]

The Romans exploited lead mines, extracting big blocks (30-40 kg) called "turtles". The Valhondo mining village extracted a 37 kg turtle, now shown in the Town Hall. Several villas were founded along a secondary Roman road, such as the Cercado de la Cierva fortified farm. Several coins and a lance were excavated in La Caballería, together with the funerary flagstone reused in the chimney of the modern farm; Clodoaldo Naranjo, a scholar from Trujillo, claimed in Trujillo y su tierra that the stone was dedicated to Marcus Canus Nigrini and that the name of Berzocana would come from Versocana, "versus Cana", "close to Cana's estate".

The Visigoths maintained the contacts established by the Romans with Mérida. Remains of an early basilica were reused to build the modern parish church. Nothing has remained of the Muslim period, which ended on 25 January 1232 with the definitive Christian reconquest.
On 26 October 1223, the tradition says, a farmer plowing his field stumbled against the sarcophagus of Sts. Fulgentius and Florentina, the brother and sister of St. Leander and St. Isidor of Seville, as stated by the documents attached to the relics, which were incorporated to Alfonso the Wise's Chronicle. The relics from theses Visigoths saints were brought from Seville and hidden in the Extremadura mountains by clerics fleeing the Muslim advance. The place of finding of the sarcophagus is marked by the Saints' Cross.
A church was erected in the 15th-16th century in Gothic style to keep the precious relics, replacing an earlier mudéjar sanctuary. The Saints' Chapel, consecrated on 3 October 1610, houses the marble tomb of the saints and the silver reliquary offered by Philip II. Building such a big church was a way to dismiss the claim by the bishop of Murcia, who argued that the saints, born in Cartagena, should have been interred in the Murcia cathedral. Philip II eventually ordered the relics to be kept permanently in Berzocana.
Berzocana was granted the title of villa on 30 March 1538 by Charles I.

Ivan Sache, 19 March 2020

Flag of Berzocana

The flag (photo) and arms of Berzocana, adopted on 13 July 1988 by the Municipal Council and validated on 5 December 1989 by the Royal Academy of History, are prescribed by an Order issued on 10 January 1990 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 18 January 1990 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 6, p. 59 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Green, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, a red border charged with eight yellow saltires.
Coat of arms: Vert a tower argent on rocks served by an ascending path ensigned by an eight-pointed Maltese cross argent. A bordure gules charged with eight saltires or. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The arms are made of the arms of Trujillo, recalling that Berzocana belonged for most of its history to the Community of the Town and Land of Trujillo, complemented with an element recalling the local topography.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 186:3, 476. 1989]

Ivan Sache, 19 March 2020