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Utrera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Utrera, three versions - Images after the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 30 May 2014

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Presentation of Utrera

The municipality of Utrera (52,013 inhabitants in 2013; 68,426 ha; municipal website) is located 30 km south-east of Seville. The municipality is made of the town of Utrera and of three villages of Guadalema de los Quintero and El Palmar de Troya.

Utrera is of unknown origin. The local erudite Rodrigo Caro (1573-1647; Convento Jurídico de Sevilla) claims that the town was founded "2637 years after the creation of the world". Utrera is first documented by Strabo, as established by Caesar's soldiers in 23 BC. The town was crossed by the Via Augusta, as evidenced by an inscription found on the Roman bridge of Alcantarilla. Several distinct settlements existed in the area: Siarum, Salpensa, Alice, Orippo and Leptis. The today's downtown is the site of two necropolis, dated to the 3rd-2nd century BC and the 3rd-4th century; at the time the area was planted with grains, grapevine and olive trees. Utrera was named for utrer, "a place where goatskins are manufactured", reflecting the significant transport of wine and oil produced locally.
There is little documentation on the Muslim period; hardly mentioned in the Seville sharing, Utrera must not have been a place of significance. There were at least three distinct settlements at the time: Facialcázar, built on the ruins of the Roman town of Salpensa; Alcantarilla, named for the Arab word al-qantar, "a bridge", probably a military post controlling the transhumance road (the former Via Augusta); and Alhorín, today a farm of the same name.

Utrera was first documented in Alfonso X's sharing of Seville, mostly as an Arab defence tower. After the resettlement of the place, especially by a seizable Jewish colony, the tower was transformed into a castle watching the border. In the 13th-15th century, Utrera was a strategic place. After the fall of the Kingdom of Granada, the town grew up so that it was in 1570 the most fluent settlement in the Kingdom of Seville. The town declined in the 17th century following the epidemic of black plague in 1649 and the careless administration of the Kingdom of Spain.
Clemente de la Cuadra y Gibaxa (1802-1873), Mayor from 1844 to 1846, modernized the old town, paving the streets and buildings fountains, houses, a prison, a cemetery, a market hall and a Town Hall; the town got its modern appearance only during the reign of Alfonso XII (crowned in 1877). In 1963, Utrera was proclaimed the first producer of cotton in Spain.

Utrera is sometiems self-styled the Cradle of Flamenco.
Flamenco was initiated in Utrera in 1850. The most famous ambassador of the Utrra style is Tomas de Perrate, born in 1964 in a famous lineage. Other famous local flamenco musicians are the sisters Fernanda de Utrera (1927-2009) and Bernarda de Utrera (1923-2006), and their half-sister Pepe de Utrera (1926-2009), Curro de Utrera (1927-2015) and Gaspar de Utrera (1932-2008), Enrique Montoya (1928-1993) and his son, Tate Montoya (b. 1948).
The Potaje Gitano is the oldest flamenco festival in Spain. The "Gipsy Supper" was first organized on 15 May 1957 by the Borotherhood of the Gypsies of Utrera; among the 60 guests sat Gaspar de Utrera and José el de la Aurora, the father of Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, who all enjoyed "a bean soup with a lot of garlic". Since then, the supper has turned into a big festival dedicated every year to a celebrity (for instance, Cristina Hoyos, in 2002.)

Ivan Sache, 30 May 2014

Symbols of Utrera

The flag of Utrera (photo, photo) is horizontally divided yellow-red-white-red-yellow (2:1:4:1:2).
The flag was selected in a public contest organized in 1986 by the municipality. The use of the red, yellow and white colours was mandatory, based on a book of accounts dated c. 1500, which prescribes the purchase of cloth of those colours to produce the banner of the town.
[Símbolos de Sevilla website]

The flag is also used with the municipal coat of arms, either centered (flag hoisted over the castle; photo, photo), or skewed to the hoist (flag officially offered to citizens of Utrera; photo).

The coat of arms of Utrera is "Per fess, 1a. Azure an olive tree and a grapevine fructed orled by the writing 'Da vino Baco, da aceite Palas' [O Bacchus, Give Us Wine, O Pallas, Give us Oil], 1b. Azure a tower or ensigned by a woman crowned or holding dexter a branch of laurel sinister a scepter, 3. Azure a pine and a bunch of wheat plants orled by the writing 'Da trigo Ceres, da maderas Cibelea' [O Ceres, Give Us Wheat, O Cybele, Give Us Wood], 2. Azure a horse and a bull passant tied by a rope issuant from the base of the castle on a base vert charged with a two-arched bridge over a brook proper. A bordure or inscribed with 'Rica en vacas, ovejas, caballos; generosa en granos; en aceite, fértil; en vino fecunda; criadora de frutas, de sal; en pinos soberbia; solo con tus bienes opulenta' [Rich in Cows, Sheep and Horses; Profuse in Grain; Fertile in Oil; Fecund in Wine; Supplier of Fruit and Salt; Proud of its Pines; Solely with Opulent Resources]. The shield placed over a cartouche or with lambresquins and surmounted by a Royal crown open."
[Símbolos de Sevilla website]

The local erudite Román Meléndez described in 1730 (Epílogo de Utrera, sus grandezas y hazañas gloriosas de sus hijos, 1. II) the shield as follows [Wikipedia]:

On the shield a castle ensigned with a women's bust crowned with an Imperial crown, holding in the right hand a branch of olive and in the left hand a scepter. The gate of the castle is closed, with a horse and a bull tied to it. On the right side of the castle stand a grapevine and an olive tree, on its left side, a pine and wheat spikes. Beneath, a bridge and the Las Salinas brook." These arms were reported by Rodrigo Méndez de Silva and Friar Juan Santos, from the Order of St. John of God. They state that these arms are the most singular used by any town or fortress in Europe. They are surmounted by a coronet. The woman and her attributes means that Utrera was an old Roman colony; this is also demonstrated by the abundant fruits. The castle, a fortress not accessible to the enemy, defends the wealth of the town and the valor of its sons. The two aforementioned authors do not agree on the repartition of the attributes, lacking any report. The writing shown on the shield are not in use today; whether they were ever used is not known. The coronet means that the town has always been part of the Royal domain.

The coat of arms highlights the agricultural resources of Utrera. Pines have nearly disappeared from the municipal territory, while dense pinewoods once covered its northern part. The wood was used to repair the vessels of the Spanish Navy; on some representations of the arms, the pines are represented with an axe's notch to symbolize the exploitation of the pinewoods.
The bull recalls that Utrera is sometimes considered as the cradle of the toro bravo, the bull bred for bull-fighting. The origin of the horse represented on the arms is less straightforward: at the time of Almanzor (10th century) existed in Utrera a pasture where the biggest Arab horse herd was kept.
The two brooks can be identified as Calzas Anchas and La Antigua.
The castle with the closed door recalls that Utrera was located in the Moorish bend (banda morisca), the buffer area aimed at defending Seville against Moorish raids.
[ABC Sevilla, 17 February 2014]

The traditional coat of arms was used with several variations. Accordingly, the Municipal Council approved on 30 September 1999 a modernized design, described as follows ([Casa de Utrera in Catalunya]):

Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Gules over waves argent and azure a two-arched bridge or masoned sable ensigned with a castle of the same masoned sable port and windows azure superimposed dexter by a horse passant argent and sinister by a bull saltant sable the two chained to the castle ensigned by a king issuant clad azure crowned or holding in the right hand a vegetal branch and in the left hand a scepter argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The municipality, however, still uses the traditional version of the coat of arms [Municipal website].

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 30 May 2014

El Palmar de Troya


Flag of El Palmar de Troya - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 13 September 2016

The submunicipal entity of El Palmar de Troya (2,401 inhabitants in 2014) is part of he municipality of Utrera.
El Palmar de Troya is on the "tortuous way" of separation from Utrera to form an independent municipality. Validated by the Village Council of El Palmar de Troya and the Municipal Council of Utrera, the request of separation was approved in April 2015 by the Provincial Council of Seville.
[ABC, 9 April 2015]

El Palmar de Troya, located half distance of Seville and Jerez, was in the 13th century part of the Morisco Strip, the defensive belt established against Moorish raids. This is the site of the Roman town of Siarium, subsequently renamed Seara.
The village is named for the palm tree groves emblematic of the area and the neighbouring estate of Troya.
The struggle for separation was initiated on 31 January 1998, when Manuel García Alonso, Mayor of the Village, founded a political party called Grupo Independiente Pro Ayuntamiento de El Palmar De Troya (GIP). The status of Autonomous Local Entity was granted on 4 March 2003 to El Palmar de Troya.
[Municipal website]

The flag of El Palmar de Troya (photo, photo, photo) is horizontally divided blue-yellow-blue with the village's coat of arms in the center.
The coat of arms of El Palmar de Troya features a representation of the local landscape, showing the eagle's Tower, surmounted by the Andalusian flag and two groups of palm trees making the arms canting, under a light blue sky lit by a yellow sun.
[Municipal website]

El Palmar de Troya is the cradle - and unique site - of the Palmar Christian Church (Iglesia Cristiana Palmeriana), founded in the 1970s by Clemente Domínguez (1946-2005), the self-proclaimed Pope Gregory XVII.
Born in Seville, Domínguez was ordained priest on 31 December 1971 by the Vietnamese archbishop Pedro Martin Ngo-Din Thuc, who ordained him Bishop on 11 January 1976. Performed on the fringe of the ritual, the ordinations were not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Domínguez reported an apparition of the Blessed Virgin in Palmar on 30 September 1969; after having exhibited stigmata, he was summoned by the Church to stop exhibiting supernatural manifestations.
On 27 August 1978, Domínguez revealed he had been named "pontifex maximus", that is, Pope, as Gregory XVII, by the Blessed Virgin. In a series of "Papal Documents", Gregory XVII canonized Franco, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, King Pelagius and Christopher Columbus, among others, while he excommunicated the Spanish Royal family.
Gregory XVII, better known as Pope Clement, used the donations of his supporters to build a huge basilica on the site of the alleged Marian apparition. Access to the fortified sanctuary is restricted to specific periods and selected guests obeying the dress code of the (fake) Order of the Carmelites of the Holy Faith. The economical crisis also forced the pope, he said, to sell some jewels of the Virgin, to quit sexual relations (!) and to renounce to the expected miracle of vision recovery - Clement lost vision in 1975 following a car accident.
On 4 January 1988, the pope obtained form the Supreme Court the registration of his congregation as a religious ordination.
[El Pais, 22 March 2005]

The appearances of Pope Clement, surrounded by his bishops, in public events, such as the Seville Feria, soon became an object of ridicule. At least one episode of his "sacerdotal" life caused public trouble. On 17 May 1982, the pope and his bishops went to Alba de Tormes (Province of Salamanca), a small town keeping highly revered relics of St. Theresa of Jesus. The parish priest reported that Clement entered the church and assaulted the Carmelite prior, claiming that he was the genuine pope and that there was no reason to wait for the planned visit of John Paul II; protected by a group of Catalan pilgrims, the nun ran out of the church, suffocating and shouting for help, while the pilgrims entrenched in the church and rang the bells. Aware of the event, hundreds of villagers rushed to the church to defend their "mother", that is the saint, from the outrage inflicted by the fake pope. Expelled from the church by the pilgrims, the pope faced an infuriated mob that prevented him (and his court) to go back to the two cars that they had parked, illegally, nearby. The Mayor and his Deputy arrived just in time to calm the mob, which was about to lynch the pope and had attempted to knock over the cars. The Civil Guard eventually brought the injured pilgrims to the hospital and the papal delegation to jail. The villagers pulled one of the cars near the river, where they burned it down. Eventually released, the pope and his bishops had to call a taxi to return to Seville.
[El Pais, 18 May 1982]

The Palmar Church experienced its probable last extravaganza in spring 2016. Ginés Jesús Hernández, Pope Gregory XVIII since 2011, left Palmar for Monachil (Province of Granada), the residence of his lover. Soon nicknamed "the pope in love", Hernández revealed the secrets of the Church. He recognized that his prediction of the advent of the Antichrist in 2012 was a lie. More seriously, he provided significant evidence that the funding of the Church was based on tax evasion organized worldwide in collusion with prominent banks. Gregory XVIII's successor, Pedro III, refused to comment these allegations.
[El Pais, 23 May 2016]

Ivan Sache, 13 September 2016