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Utrera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2021-05-16 by ivan sache
Keywords: utrera |
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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 the village of Guadalema de los Quintero.

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 Brotherhood 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

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