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Algarve (Portugal)

Last modified: 2014-06-29 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: algarve | head: moor | head: king |
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Algarve heraldic motives

The moorish and christian kings in the Algarve municipal arms (13 out of 16 municipalities) shows a little different in each different coat of arms — and often the same arms show appreciable differences in various depictions.

Algarvan heads and azorean goshawk are the only distinctive regional charges in our municipal heraldry (plus the star in the municipalities of the Estrela Range region, though in a much lesser degree), having all the other charges a more local / historical character. The reasons for this are different, I think. Although in the Algarve what happens is that it used to be a de jure separate kingdom under a personal union with Portugal until the 20’s of the last century, thus having it’s own set of symbols (although no flag, as far as I know), in my humble opinion the goshawk derives from the obvious graphical expression of the name of the islands, since I don’t think they ever had arms until they became autonomous in the ’70s.
Jorge Candeias, 31 Mar 1999

Historical arms

Algarve hist CoA
image by Jorge Candeias, 1996

Background color variation

Algarve hist CoA
image by Jorge Candeias, 1996

Yesterday on TV during the motorcyclist concentration in Faro a man was wearing a pin/patch on his jacket with a coat-of-arms of Algarve, but with blue on the christian quarters and white on the moor’s, instead of gold and red. The crown was also not right, it seemed more like a golden mural crown in the style of Lisbon.
João Madureira, 20 Jul 2003

That’s how it is used curently. That shield with blue and white quartering is almost the only one that appears in modern renditions of the thing in colour. Almost. There is also another rendition of the arms, part of the symbol of the Cycling Association of the Algarve, that shows the christian kings on white and the moorish kings on black and red. (There’s a good image at
Jorge Candeias, 20 Jul 2003

There’s also a red and white variation, seldom seen, except in regional boy and girl scout symbology. An example here:
Jorge Candeias, 20 Jul 2003

Putative historical flag

Algarve CoA flag
image by André Godinho, 20 Jul 2003

I have a picture of an ancient map of the the century XVIII, showing the coat of arms of Algarve (Portugal). Based in the Portuguese flag I draw a possible flag: in these century, Algarve was a Kingdom and with this status must have an own flag, and these flag only can be like every portuguese flag of the period, white with the coat of arms in the center (v.g. the Portuguese flag, the principality of Brazil, etc).
André Godinho, 20 Jul 2003

I think it is highly unlikely that anything of the sort ever existed. It would appear in at least some old maps and flag charts, just like it happens with the flags of Portugal and Brazil. It doesn’t, at least as far as current knowledge goes. Usually, the moor’s head in the Algarve arms is not the corsican/sardinian moor’s head. Our moors are kings: they had more detailed heads, covered by turbans and without any ribbons, and with brown skin, not black.
Jorge Candeias, 20 Jul 2003

The map shows an Algarvian arms with a moor’s head like the corsican/sardinian moor’s head and the color of the skin is black, is a picture called Portugallia et Algarbia of Fernando Álvaro Seco, Amsterdam, 1647 (38,5 × 50,2 cm).
André Godinho, 20 Jul 2003

All other representations of the arms of Algarve that I’ve seen, and they were several, mostly, but not exclusively, modern, show the moorish kings with a turban in their heads, just like what one may see in most of today’s municipal arms in the Algarve. The only difference between the moorish kings in these arms and in the arms of Algarve is that in the former they are shown face on and on the latter they are shown in profile.
Jorge Candeias, 20 Jul 2003

Presentation of Algarve

The traditional region Algarve has an area of 4982 km2, and a population of 343 850 inhabitants as of 1990, living in 16 municipalities. The territory coincides exactly with the Faro District.
António Martins, 24 Jul 2001

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