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Isla Cristina (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: isla cristina | la redondela |
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Flag of Isla Cristina - Image by "Apj" (Wikimedia Commons), 26 July 2009

See also:

Presentation of Isla Cristina

The municipality of Isla Cristina (20,982 inhabitants in 2008; 4,936 ha; municipal website) is located on the Gulf of Cádiz, 45 km west of Huelva and 10 km from the border with Portugal. The fishing port of Isla Cristina, the second biggest Spanish sardine port after Vigo, and the first in Spain for the sales of fresh fish, perpetuates an industry initiated by Catalans in the 18th century. Tourism, favoured by 10 km of sandy beaches, is the other main source of income in Isla Cristina.

Established in 1715 near the mouth of river Guadiana, Catalan merchants were granted in 1724 by King Philip V the concession of an island (isla) where to produce salt fish and to trade it to Catalonia. Each spring, they came back to Andalusia, purchased fish from fishers of Portugal and Andalusia, and salted it; the last shipping of salt fish to Catalonia was scheduled to November. Every year, the merchants settled the areas of Monte Gordo (Portugal) and La Tuta and La Mojarra, located today in the middle of the Isla Cristina salt marshes (marismas). On 1 November 1755, the tidal wave caused by the Lisbon earthquake destroyed the merchants' headquarters; the next season, the merchants built the first permanent settlement on the island, an enclave watched by José Faneca and his family. Faneca built a well near a fig-tree (higuera), which gave its name to the place, La Figuereta / La Higuerita / La Figarilla.
The enclave was progressively settled by Catalans, Andalusians, Valencians and Portuguese. In 1774-1776, the Marquis of Pombal founded the Royal Town of Santo António as the Portuguese capital of salt fish. To force the fishers of Monte Gordo to move to the new town, the Marquis ordered to burn down their homes, which indeed caused them to settle to La Higuerita. The increase in population and wealth of the island triggerred the interest of the lord of Ayamonte and the town of La Redondela, both claiming jurisdiction (and tax collection) over La Higuerita. Upon the fishers' request, the island was declared property of the Navy by Charles III in April 1788. In 1802, the islanders were granted administrative independence as Real Isla de la Higuerita. Made an ordinary municipality in 1833, the island was renamed Isla Cristina the next year, as a tribute to Regent Queen Maria Cristina.
In the late 19th century, the number of traditional fisheries (almadrabas) dramatically increased on the island. In 1888, the islander Juan Martín Cabet imported modern fishing pots from the USA, while the first sardine canning factory was built in 1892. This started the "Age of Blue Gold", named for blue fish (tuna and sardine). On 12 December 1877, the fading village of La Redondela, with less than 500 inhabitants, was incorporated to Isla Cristina (5,000 inhabitants). Isla Cristina was then ruled by a wealthy oligarchy, who imported several novelties from Catalonia, such as lawn tennis; they also funded the set up of theaters, of a cinema (1907) and of a newspaper (1910). In 1926, the writer and politician Blas Infante Pérez de Vargas (1885-1936), officially considered as the "Father of the Andalusian Nation", who was then a notary in the town, supported the creation of the Ateneo de Isla Cristina, a cultural association modelled on the famous Ateneo de Sevilla. Exporting salt fish to Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden and France, the islanders modernized their fleet, with sail boats and steamers coexisting for a few decades. On 29 October 1924, King Alfonso XIII granted Isla Cristina with the title of ciudad, a title that required a population of more than 10,000 inhabitants.

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2009

Symbols of Isla Cristina

The flag (photo, photo, photo) of Isla Cristina, adopted on 12 November 2004 by the Municipal Council and submitted the same day to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 21 December 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 11 January 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 6, p. 38 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, in proportions 11:18, divided in three equal horizontal, parallel stripes perpendicular to the hoist. The first and the third, yellow, the second, central, white with three blue fesses of equal proportions in height and length. Centered and all over, the municipal coat of arms.

The flag was proposed by Juan José Antequera.

The coat of arms of Isla Cristina is prescribed by Decree No. 2,503, adopted on 2 October 1969 by the Spanish Government and published on 28 October 1969 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 258, p. 16,874 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The "rehabilitated", "of immemorial use", coat of arms, validated by the Royal Academy of History, is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Argent a well azure a fig tree vert, in base azure three fesses wavy argent two sailboats [of the same]. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown.

The Royal Academy of History validated the "rehabilitated" coat of arms, provided the charges are represented in a less naturalistic and picturesque way. The charges are taken from old coat of arms represented in heraldic references, the fig tree and the well recall the supply of freshwater to the town, in the 18th century, while the sea and the boats represent the most transcendent industry in the town, fishing.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 1973, 170:1, 204]

The arms were originally designed in 1834 by the priest José Mirabent Soler, native from Isla Cristina and its first parish priest.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2016

La Redondela


Flag of La Redondela - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 9 September 2016

The submunicipal entity of La Redondela (1,583 inhabitants in 2013) is part of the municipality of Isla Cristina.

The flag (photo, photo, photo) and arms of La Redondela, adopted on 18 November 1998 by the Village Council and validated on 25 February 1999 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 126, 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). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia 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 11 x 18, green, charged at 2/3 of its width with nine yellow disks placed in three pallets of three each, the central one lower.
Coat of arms: Vert nine bezants or in three pallets of three each the central lower. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The symbols were designed by Juan José Antequera.
The disks (redondelas) make the arms canting. They also represent the emblematic monument of La Redondela, the Huerta Noble pigeon-house, the disks recalling the nests.
[Símbolos de Huelva website]

The Huerta Noble is a rural estate built during the second half of the 19th century; its complex architectural design aimed at maximizing the profit of the estate, is representative of the way of life of the agrarian bourgeoisie of the time. The main house, the chapel, a small worker's hut, the old oil mill, the noria and the cistern have been preserved until now, together with the pigeon-house. Erected in 1750 by Manuel Rivero González (1697-1780), the pigeon-house is one of the biggest in Europe. Rectangular (28.50 m x 14.40 m), 5.50 m in height, the building is divided into nine longitudinal (north-south) and three transversal (east-west) alleys, of 85 cm in width. The nests are arranged in horizontal rows on the inner walls delimiting the alleys and on the inner perimeter of the building.
The building is topped by a lantern with an hemispheric cupola of 1.10 m in diameter and an octagonal drum, the whole reaching a height of 3.70 m. The cupola is surmounted by a cross and an arrow made of iron.
The pigeon-house could cater up to 70,000 birds. In the beginning of the 20th century, the colony still counted 20,000 birds, a number that dramatically dropped because of changes in the farm management in 1952. The pigeon-house was abandoned in 1977.
[Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage; Huelva Buenas Noticias, 28 November 2015; Huelva Hoy, 1 October 2014]

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016