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Baños de la Encina (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-06-03 by ivan sache
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Flag of Baños de la Encina - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 1 December 2015

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Presentation of Baños de la Encina

The municipality of Baños de la Encina (2,669 inhabitants in 2014; 39,200 ha; municipal website) is located 50 km north-west of Jaén. The municipality is made of the town of Baños de la Encina and of the mining village (lead and silver) of El Centenille, located 18 km of the seat of the municipality.

Baños de la Encina is watched by the fortress of Bury Al-Hammam, erected on a rocky spur dominating river Rumblar; an engraved writing kept in the National Archeological Museum states that the castle was built by Caliph Alhaken II and inaugurated in 968. This is indeed one of the best preserved Muslim fortresses in Europe, since it was hardly transformed after the Christian reconquest. Like other castles built at the same period in Tarifa, El Vacar and Zorita, the castle of Bury Al-Hammam housed the Berber troops hired for the yearly campaigns against the Christian states, which then rallied in the castle of Gormaz.
In the 11th century, the Caliphate broke down in several rival kingdoms (taifas); the castle became a bone of contention between the Muslims and the Christians, being the key to Andalusia. Alfonso VII seized it in 1147 but the Christians would keep it for only ten years. Conquered in 1189 by Alfonso VIII of Castile and Alfonso IX of León, the fortress was taken over by the Muslims in 1212, three days after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. The castle was eventually incorporated to the Kingdom of Castile by Ferdinand III the Saint in 1225, and soon granted to Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo. The Order of St. James was commissioned to defend the castle. A few years later, Ferdinand III incorporated the village of Baños to the town of Baeza, which would rule it until 1626, when Baños de la Encina was granted the status of villa. In 1458, Henry IV transferred the castle to Constable Lucas de Iranzo. Upset by the jurisdictional change, the local population seized the castle, which was reincorporated to the Royal domain in 1468 by the Regidor of Baeza.

Ivan Sache, 1 December 2015

Symbols of Baños de la Encina

The flag (photos) and arms of Baños de la Encina (municipal website), adopted on 27 May 2010 by the Municipal Council and submitted the next day to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 15 June 2010 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 30 June 2010 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 127, p. 26 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 3:2 (length on width), divided in three horizontal stripes, the central, in width 1/16 of the flag's width, yellow, the two other, green. In the center, the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Or, a holly oak vert the trunk proper surrounded by two towers gules masoned and port and windows sable the canopy ensigned with a Virgin holding Child Jesus in her arms; the first clad azure argent and or and crowned or the second clad azure nimbed or. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open.

The coat of arms features a representation of the patron saint of the town, the Virgen de la Encina (Virgin of the Holly Oak, presentation). The wooden statue appeared to a farmer after he had cut a branch from a big holly oak. The statue was brought to the parish church while oil poured from the trunk of the oak. A rich landlord purchased the plot in order to make money with the miraculous oil, which stopped pouring as soon as he had paid. The miraculous oak soon produced triangular acorns, in which the villagers recognized the image of the Virgin. Another tradition says that the statue was found inside the trunk of a holly oak by knight Templars in the 15th century. Similar traditions are connected with the Virgen de la Encina of Ponferrada, patron saint of the town and of the whole Bierzo district, and of Fatima. The Virgin de la Encina is celebrated in Baños in a pilgrimage organized the second Sunday of May.
The statue is kept in a dedicated chapel (photo), erected in the 13th-14th century some 4 km of the downtown, reorganized and increased in the 18th century.

Ivan Sache, 1 December 2015