The coat of arms of Avilés – by SUE BURKE

History is alive in Spain, even in tiny details.

In 1248, a Castilian fleet sent by King Fernando III “the Saint” was attacking the city of Seville, at the time held by the Moors. But the way was blocked by an enormous chain that stretched between towers on either side of the Guadalquivir River; a chain like that was also used to protect the harbor of Constantinople. (One of Seville’s towers, known as the Gold Tower, still stands.)

A ship in the King’s fleet had been built and was crewed by men from Avilés, a city on the Atlantic Coast in northern Spain. At that time, it was one of the busiest ports in the area, with a particularly important trade in salt.

An Avilés crew member had the idea to put large saw teeth on the prow of the ship, which then sailed up to the chain and, pushed up and down by the waves, slowly cut through it. Seville was taken, a key victory in the Reconquest of Spain.

Out of gratitude, King Fernando gave Avilés the right to recreate the event on its coat of arms: the ship, the saw, the chain, and the towers. That coat of arms is used by the city to this day. The city retains its strong ties to the sea and industry, and it has also renewed its medieval downtown and cultural events and institutions.

This photo is a detail of the fountain in front of the Church of San Francisco, which served an early source of potable water for the city.


Sue Burke

Sue Burke Ha publicado 62 entradas.

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