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Villafáfila (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villafáfila - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 March 2011

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Presentation of Villafáfila

The municipality of Villafáfila (582 inhabitants in 2009; 7,399 ha; municipal website) is located in Zamora Province.

Villafáfila was mentioned for the first time in 936 when the Sahagún monastery purchased pausatas (salterns) located in the village. The village could have been named for a resettler called Fáfila; Germán Delibes, arguing that salt extraction already existed there in the Roman times, believes that Villafáfila is related to favilla salis, in Latin, "the finest salt". In the 12th century, King Ferdinand II reorganized the village, which was granted rights and fortifications; transferred to the Order of Saint James in 1229, Villafáfila was reincorporated to the Royal domain when the order winded up.

Salt deposited by the meandering brook Salado ("salty") has made the wealth of Villafáfila; originally exploited by private owners, the salterns were transferred to monasteries and eventually to the kings. The saltern area forms the today's Villafáfila Lagunas. Salt extraction ended in the 19th century, being replaced by cereal and grapevine growing; the remaining lagunas were used for hunting. In the 1970s, several wetlands in Castilla y León were dried up, for instance the Nava Laguna (Palencia) and the Duero Laguna (Valladolid).
Today the biggest wetlands in Castilla y León, the Villafáfila; Lagunas, protected since 1986 as a National Hunting Reservation (32,682 ha), are a main bird sanctuary recognized by the European Union.

Ivan Sache, 2 March 2011

Symbols of Villafáfila

The flag and arms of Villafáfila are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 3 October 2001 by the Municipal Council, signed on 10 October 2001 by the Mayor, and published on 26 October 2001 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 209, p. 15,437 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, with proportions 2:3, made of five horizontal stripes with proportions 2/7, 1/4 2/7, 1/4 2/7 the outer stripes blue, the intermediate stripes white and the central stripe red with two yellow Royal crowns open.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Argent a flag or charged with four pales gules and a flag gules charged with a St. Andrew's saltire or per saltire, 1b. Azure a goose volant argent, 2. Gules three Visigothic crosses or per fess. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown closed.

The listed proportions of the horizontal stripes do not make sense. From the image shown in the municipal website, the correct proportions should be 1:4, 1:12, 1:3, 1:12 and 1:4.
On the coat of arms, the first quarter shows on the left the flag of Aragón, on the right, the Burgundy Cross flag. The two flags represent the Villafáfila Concord, signed on 27 July 1506 by King of Aragón Ferdinand the Catholic and Archduke of Austria Philip the Handsome; acknowledging the madness of Ferdinand's daughter and Philip's wife, Queen of Castile Joanna (aka Joanna the Mad), the Concord recognized Philip as the sole King of Castile. Philip died on 25 September 1506, which made of Ferdinand the Governor and Regent of the Kingdom of Castile. The second quarter represents the Villafáfila Lagunas. The third quarter represents the three golden crosses forming the Villafáfila Treasure, found in the 1920s and kept in the Zamora Provincial Museum.
The two crowns on the flag must also represent the Villafáfila Concord.

Ivan Sache, 2 March 2011