Last modified: 2015-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Zafarraya - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 October 2015
The municipality of Zafarraya (2,023 inhabitants in 2014; 5,786 ha; municipal website) is located 80 km south-west of Granada, on the border with the Province of Málaga. The municipality is made of the town of Zafarraya and of the villages of El Almendral (314 inh.), Venta de la Leche (12 inh.) and Rincón de los Reinas (8 inh.).
Zafarraya is located in the Zafarraya Plain, the largest karstic depression (polje) in Europe, also a main route connecting Málaga and Granada; in the Middle Ages, this connection between the coastal and central parts of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada was protected by a dense network of watch towers (atalayas) and castles. This included the towers of Luna, La Torrecilla, El Moro and El Alemndral, as well as the castles of Zafarraya and La Torrecilla. The tower of La Torrecilla was located atop (1,312 m) the hill of the same name, on the border between the municipal territories of Zafarraya and Alhama de Granada; the tower could communicate with other fortifications by smoke (in daytime) or fire (in nightime) signals. The tower of El Moro was located on a smaller hill, watching old roads connecting Zafarraya to Alfarnate and Loja. The tower of El Almendral was located on the eastern flank of the Mine Hill (1,500 m), east of El Almendral, watching old roads connecting Zafarraya to Alhama and Loja.
After the Christian reconquest, the Zafarraya plain was fiercely disputed between the towns of Alhama de Granada, Vélez-Málaga and Loja. Shepherds from the neighbouring villages of Alfarnate and Periana, in search of new pastures, also settled the area. A main conflict broke out between Alhama and Vélez, since the Zafarraya pastures were a main source of acorns (used to feed pigs) and wood. The pastures were proclaimed a Royal domain, to be jointly exploited by the two towns, which did not really stop the quarrel. The permanent population increased so much, mostly coming from Alfarnate, that King Ferdinand VII signed on 11 October 1815 the Royal Letters establishing the independent municipality and parish of Zafarraya. Not happy with the separation, the inhabitants of Alhama exerted violence aginast their neighbours until the 3rd Battalion of Málaga restored peace in 1838.
During the Civil War, Zafarraya remained loyal to the Second Republic; together with El Almendral, Zafarraya was the main stronghold of resistance to the Francoist regime in Andalusia. The Lettuce War, aka Green Struggle, broke our in the Zafarraya Plain in 1977, peaking in a protest march against Málaga.
The Cave of Boquete de Zafarraya is located 3 km east of the town of Zafarraya, close to the village of Ventas de Zafarraya (part of the municipality of Alhama de Granada), but on the municipal territory of Alcaucín (Province of Málaga). When exploring the case, Cecilio Barroso Ruiz discovered in 1979 a paleontological site of top significance. Jointly with Francisca Medina Lara, he organized campaigns of excavations on 1981-1983 and 1990-1994. Considered now as the best described Neandertal site in Europe, the site contains the remains of at least nine individuals - two children and seven adults. The remains were not buried but deposited in a cavity together with remains of herbivores, such as the mountain goat, Capra pyrenaica. The analysis of the bones demonstrated that an act of cannibalism had occurred there, the hitherto best documented of that kind. Further analysis performed on the remains of the goats indicated that the cave had been settled between the end of the spring and the onset of fall, most probably for a few days by a troop of gaot hunters.
[Cecilio Barroso Ruiz. La Cueva del Boquete de Zafarraya, un lugar visitado por los neandertales hace 40.000 años. Revista ph, 2010, 74 (PDF file)]
Ivan Sache, 12 October 2015
The symbols of Zafarraya, designed by the historian Andrés García Maldonado but not officially registered yet, were unveiled on 2 May 2015 during a ceremony aimed at "definitively sealing concord between Zafarraya and Alhama".
The flag of Zafarraya is green with a red horizontal stripe in the center, in height 1/5 of the flag's hoist, superimposed with the municipal coat of arms. The design and colours are similar to the flag of Alhama by a mere coincidence. Green represents the plain, referring to the most accepted etymology of the Arab name of the town, Fahs-al-ra-iyya, "the shepherds' plain", as well as aspiration to a better future. Red recalls the struggle of Zafarraya for municipal independence and for liberty until the advent of democracy.
The coat of arms of Zafarraya, adopted in October 1993 by the Municipal Council, is "Vert five shepherd's staff or per saltire a bordure gules eight eight-pointed stars argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed." The field of the shield again recalls the etymology of Zafarraya. Or reflects the historical constance of the inhabitants. Gules is a symbol of force and triumph. The eight stars represent the eight steps in the history of Zafarraya: Prehistory, Arabs, Castilians, Clearing and Settlement, Independent Town, Earthquakes, Liberal Unrest, Union and Social Unrest.
[Alhama Comunicación, 5 May 2015]
Ivan Sache, 12 October 2015