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Punta Umbría (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Punta Umbría - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 4 September 2016

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Presentation of Punta Umbría

The municipality of Punta Umbría (14,976 inhabitants in 2013; 3,800 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km south of Huelva.

Punta Umbría emerged around a watch tower, part of a network established from 1577 onwards by Luis Bravo de Lagunas upon request of King Philip II to protect the Andalusian coasts from pirate's raids. The building of the Umbría tower should have been funded by the towns of Huelva, Moguer, and San Juan del Puerto. Since the towns could not pay, a part of tax on fishing was dedicated to the erection of the tower. This delayed the building of the towers to the reign of Philip III; a marble plaque on the Umbría tower states that the defence network was completed in 1614 only. Together with the Arenilla tower, the Umbría tower was aimed at defending access to the port of Huelva. Today, the Umbría tower is the last of those fortifications still visible in an urban environment.

The first permanent settlers of Punta Umbría were a corps of carabineers of the Spanish Army, stationed in the 1830s near the tower. Totally isolated form the rest of the world, the carabineers practised agriculture, fishing and hunting. The acquisition of the Río Tinto mines by an English company prompted the industrialization of Huelva and a complete modernization of the province. In 1880, Guillermo Sundheim reported the beach of Punta Umbría as "located close to a small fisher's village, which could be an excellent sanatorium for the mine's staff. The beach could be ideal for people recovering from malaria and would provide fresh air to the mine's staff used to sulphurous air." The Rio Tinto company built an estate on a plot belonging to the municipality of Cartaya, to be used as a place of leisure for the English staff. The engineers were progressively joined by tourists, so that private houses and small hotels were built. Spanish families mixed with the English, adopting the customs of oversummering at the beach. The British settlers built typical "English houses", on piles with a characteristic portico, which were soon copied by the Spanish newcomers. Even the Town Hall was built on the English model.

Punta Umbría counts four beaches: the urban beach; the Los Enebrales beach, established in the Los Enebrales Natural Site, characterized by a mixed vegetation of junipers (enebrales) and savins, unique in Andalusia; the La Bota beach, aka El Cruce (the Cross'), located at the crossing of roads to Huelva and Cartaya; and the El Portil beach, located along the Punta Umbría ria (sea estuary), which was once the only connection between Punta Umbría and Huelva via a boat service.

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2016

Symbols of Punta Umbría

The flag of Punta Umbría (photo, photo), adopted on 24 February 1992 by the Municipal Council and validated on 5 February 1993 by the Royal Academy of History, is prescribed by Decree No. 54, adopted on 27 April 1993 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 29 June 1993 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 69, p. 5,628 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, horizontally divided in three equal parts, the middle, green, and the outer, blue, with a yellow stripe in height 1/40 of the flag's hoist, placed diagonally from the hoist's lower corner to the fly's upper corner. In the middle the municipal coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Punta Umbría, submitted on 5 July 2005 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 5 July 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 July 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 140, p. 12 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Argent a tower proper masoned port and windows vert, 2. Argent a pine vert rooted in sand proper, in base waves argent and azure. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The waves alludes to an important feature of the local landscape, the sea and the ria. The pine represents the big pine that gave the name of the town (umbra de los pinos, "in the shade of the pines"). The tower represents the most important and old monument of the town.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Huelva (PDF file)]

The Royal Academy of History rejected a previous proposal, which was not "fitted to the heraldic rules". The proposal breaks the "no tincture on tincture" principle, which is one of the most immutable laws of heraldry; moreover, it includes several charges that are not specific of the place and lack simplicity and clarity. The Academy proposed the design that was eventually adopted in 2005.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 1979, 187:2, 412-413]

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2016