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Benalmádena (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-01-07 by ivan sache
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Flag of Benalmádena - Image from the Símbolos de Málaga website, 16 September 2016

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Presentation of Benalmádena

The municipality of Benalmádena (66,598 inhabitants in 2015, therefore the 8th most populated municipality in the province and the 3rd in Greater Málaga; 2,658 ha; municipal website, tourism website) is located on the Costa del Sol, 20 km south-west of Málaga. The municipality is made of three main settlements, Benalmádena Pueblo, Benalmádena Costa, and Arroyo de la Miel, the latter two settlements forming a single urban unit (52,061 inh.).
The municipality experienced a demographic boom in the second half of the 20th century, its population increasing from c. 2,000 inhabitants in 1950 to 10,000 in 1970 and 35,000 in 2000.

Benalmádena was first sleeted in the Solutrean period, 15,000 years ago, as evidenced by the rock paintings found in the Cueva del Toro (Bull's Cave), Mt. Calamorro. The municipal museum shows several Neolithic stone tools and pieces of ceramics found in the caves of Las Zorreras and Los Botijos.
The Phoenicians settled in coastal Benalmádena around 800 BC, in the site of La Era. They appear to have been mostly interested in the local ore resources, In the 2nd century BC, the Roman colonists initiated the exploitation of marine resources (fishing and salting); the also developed, in a lesser extent, salt extraction from salterns. The Roman villa locally known as Benal-Roma and the Roman site of Torremuelle have yielded several seals, coins, oil lamps, vases, jars, anchors and amphorae.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Benalmádena was nearly totally depopulated, and would remain so until the Muslim period.

The Muslims established a fortified town in Benalmádena in the 11th century. The name of the town was derived from Ibn-al-Madena, the Mine's Sons. Two centuries later, a planned, geometric organization of the crops (mostly, sugar cane, figs, mulberry and grapevine) was set up.
Diya al-Din Abu Mamad Abd Aliah ibn Ahmad al Andalusi al-Malaqui [from Málaga] al-Nabati [The Botanist], aka Ibn al-Baytar [The Veterinary's Son], born in Benalmádena in 1197, was one of the most famous medieval Muslim scholars; aged 25, he left his birth town and travelled all over the Muslim countries, being appointed Chief Botanist in Cairo and, eventually, Vizier in Damascus. He shared his comprehensive knowledge in several treaties, including Mogni fi addwiya el Mofridat, a basic treaty for medical doctors; Kitab al-Jami li-mufradat al-adwiyah wa-al-aghdhiyah, a compilation of more than 1,400 examples of medicinal herbs and food, extracted from more than 150 sources; and Chami al Mofridat addwiya wa alagdiya, a systematic record of his investigations on the medicinal use of animal, vegetal and mineral products.

Benalmádena was reconquerred and completely destroyed in 1456 by the Christian armies. Most inhabitants fled to Mijas; they attempted to rebuild their hometown, which was again destroyed by Ferdinand the Catholic in 1485. Alonso Palmera was commissioned in 1491 by the king to resettle the area, which had became an unsafe no man's land, with 30 Christian families; the recolonisation was postponed by diverse events, including an earthquake. The first census, dated 1496, lists 10 knights, Palmera included, and 21 farmer's households. The permanent threat represented by pirate raids prevented the development of the colony.
In the middle of the 16th century, Benalmádena, known as Benalmaina, was settled by only 10 households, representing c. 50 inhabitants, but the frequency of raids declined. Trade with Málaga started, requiring, however, the crossing of river Guadalhorce by a dangerous ford. The Zurita Zambrana family emerged as the main landlords in the region of Arroyo de la Miel. On 9 October 1680, an earthquake destroyed all the houses of the village and caused several landslides; the companion tidal wave suppressed all the fisher's boats and ruined all coastal settlements.
In 1784, the Genoese Félix Solecio acquired the estate of Arroyo de la Miel and established six paper mills. While production was stopped in 1806, the factories are the origin of the urban development of Arroyo de la Miel.

Cultivation of Moscatel raisins and grapevines was initiated in Benalmádena in the beginning of the 19th century, turning into monoculture in the middle of the century. The population increased from 1,692 inhabitants to 2,239 in 1887. The first inn in the region was inaugurated in the same period.
The phylloxera crisis (1890) destroyed all vineyards, while epidemics of malaria, cholera and typhus dramatically decreased the population. The demographic crisis stopped only in the middle of the 20th century, when Benalmádena became a popular sea resort (17 beaches) and marina (1,100 moorings).

Arroyo de la Miel is the birth place of the footballer Isco (born in 1992, as Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez). Isco has been playing, as an attacking midfielder, for FC Valencia (2010-2011), Málaga (2011-2013), and Real Madrid (2013-). His records with the national team are 13 appearances and one goal.

Ivan Sache, 16 September 2016

Symbols of Benalmádena

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo) and arms of Benalmádena, adopted on 25 May 2000 by the Municipal Council and validated on 14 December 2000 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 18, adopted on 30 January 2001 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 24 February 2001 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 23, p. 3,158 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution 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 three units in length on two in width (2/3), or, one and half time longer than wide, diagonally divided from the top hoist, the upper half, pale yellow, the lower half, orange, charged with the crown coat of arms of Benalmádena, its geometrical axis fitted to the center of the flag, in height 2/3 of the flag's width.
Coat of arms: Azure on waves azure and argent a castle or masoned sable surrounded dexter and sinister by a holly oak eradicated vert surmounted by the initials "F" or and "Y" of the same in chief dexter and sinister respectively the castle and the oaks in front of a mountain range proper in fess. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed [description skipped].

The symbols were designed by Andrés Nicás Moreno, who had been commissioned by the municipality to redact the memoir supporting the symbols (El escudo y bandera de Benalmádena.Jábega. 2003. 93, 57-67).

There is no recorded flag in Benalmádena, except religious banners. The Municipal Council adopted blue and yellow as the town's colours on 14 December 1984, but never used them on a flag of any kind. Accordingly, the proposed flag was designed from scratch.
Pale yellow is the symbol of the sun, the source of the past agricultural income and of the modern tourism income.
Orange represents Arroyo de la Miel, as the colour of honey (miel) at harvest, also recalling that bee-keeping has been a significant source of income since the Reconquest and, of course, the cultivation of orange trees.
The colour specifications are given as follows:

Colour			Pantone
Golden yellow (Au--)	 117 C
Orange (O++)		 021	

The oldest known seal used by the municipality, communicated on 15 August 1878 by the Mayor, Gregorio Marquez, is oval, featuring a castle with five crenels and three towers, the central higher, and no crown. The second model of seal, dated 1929, is similar, but the castle has five towers. These two seals, undoubtedly, represent the local fortress, of great defensive, strategic and military significance since the Christian reconquest. The charter granted in 1491 to Alonso Palmero includes among Palmero's duties the restoration of the ruined castle and the rebuilding of its five towers, vaults and surrounding walls.
A third model of seal appeared on 31 January 1935, with the castle standing on a rocky spur. This was replaced on 15 May 1938 by another seal, featuring a tower in Castilian style, with a broad base and four crenels. The next version of the seal, used on 5 October 1946, differs only by the lack of ring around the tower. THr seal remained in use until the session of 1 November 1957, when a sixth seal was inaugurated, featuring the tower much reduced in size and reinstating the orle. On 1 November 1963, a seventh model was unveiled, very similar to the fourth design.

On 19 July 1966, the municipality validated the proposal of coat of arms submitted by the Ruíz de Luna workshop. Made in polychromous ceramic, the coat of arms, in size 1.80 m x 1. 20 m, was applied to an indoors wall of the Town Hall. The coat of arms was described as follows:
"Argent on waves azure and argent a castle or masoned sable surrounded dexter and sinister by a holly oak eradicated vert surmounted by the initials 'F' sable and 'Y' of the same in chief dexter and sinister respectively the castle and the oaks in front of a mountain range azure. The shield surrounded by a Greek ornament gules interlaced with orange flowers vert [...] tied in the upper part by a scallop or and gules. Beneath the shield a scroll azure and argent [...] inscribed with 'Vigía de la Costa' [Watch of the Coast] in letters sable. Spanish shield, without crown."
This design breaks the "no metal on metal" rule and includes outer ornaments that were never accepted in traditional heraldry, except the scroll with the motto. Iy was, however, used as the municipal coat of arms and as the template for another two models of seals. The first of these models, which matches the ceramic shield and excludes all the outer ornaments, was used until 29 November 1979; it was replaced on 14 December 1979 by a full copy of the ceramic coat of arms.

In the arms eventually adopted by the Municipal Council, the field azure and the waves symbolize the sky and the Mediterranean Sea, forming a continuum. The main charge, the castle, represents the old castle of Benalmádena, of strategic significance for the watch of the coast threatened by maritime raids. The holly oaks make the arms canting [?] and represent the dominant species of tree at the time of the Reconquest. The letters "F" and "Y" are the initials of the Catholic Monarchs, who reconquerred the place from the Moors. The mountain range represents the Sierra de Mijas, which protects the town and offered it favourable conditions in the early times of the colonization.
The colour specifications are given as follows:

Colour		 Pantone
Azure	 	 3005 C
Argent		  414 C
Or		  117 C
Sable		  Black
Vert		  339 U
Brunâtre	 4645 U

Ivan Sache, 16 September 2016