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Los Villares (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-02-03 by ivan sache
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Flag of Los Villares - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 21 January 2017

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Presentation of Los Villares

The municipality of Los Villares (6,019 inhabitants in 2016; 8,863 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km south of Jaén.
Los Villares is a toponym quite frequent in Spain; no less than 12 settlements bear this name in the Province of Jaén. These toponyms appear in the 15th-16th centuries, built on villar (from Latin, villa), "a hamlet with a limited population". The plural form, los villares, therefore refer to a process of settlement based on the establishment of scattered hamlets.

The first attempt of resettlement of the Sierra de Jaén was attempted after the surrender of the Moorish fortresses of Cambil and Alhabar on 22 September 1485; their commander, Muhammad Lentín, kissed the hands of Queen Isabel the Catholic in Jaén as a symbol of submission before withdrawing to Granada.
The new, Christian commanders of the fortresses of Arenas, Cambil, Alhamar and Otiñar, commissioned to watch the border with the Kingdom of Granada, decided to increase the population of the hamlets scattered in the most fertile parts of the mountains. On 18 November 1489, the Catholic Monarchs allowed the Council of Jaén to resettle an area limited by the town, the castle of Otiñar and the banks of river Eliche, and, specifically, to create a villa encompassing the scattered hamlets of Los Villares, which were mostly depopulated at the time. Nothing happened until 4 March 1494, when seven colonists from Jaén were allocated plots, with the duty to erect houses and to crop the neighbouring area. The new owners stayed in Jaén, did not build any hut and hardly cared of the land, with the approval of the Council of Jaén, which allocated the area to be resettled to the powerful shepherd's Brotherhood of Santo Domingo de los Pastores.

The colonization projects fell into oblivion until 17 March 1508, when Queen Joanna reactivated the process, which was eventually initiated. The noted sculptor Juan de Reolid (1508-1571) was granted a plot in Los Villares in May 1539; he never settled in the village and sold his plot in 1543. However, he drew the oldest known scale map of Los Villares.
The Viscounty of Los Villares was erected on 15 September 1707 and 2 May 1708 for Francisco de Zeballos y Villegas Sainz y Solórzano (1655-1709), who erected the casa grande (big house) on the village's main square.

Ivan Sache, 21 January 2017

Symbols of Los Villares

The flag of Los Villares (photo) is quartered red-white-green-red with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. Neither the flag not the arms appear to have been officially registered.
The coat of arms of Los Villares is "Quarterly, 1. Gules a tower or masoned and port and windows sable, 2. Argent a lion gules, 3. Vert a key or in pale, 4. Gules two swords proper crossed in saltire."

Ivan Sache, 21 January 2017