Sunday, August 28, 2011

In Madrid: El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree)

Madrid’s coat of arms is a Bear sniffing the fruits of a strawberry tree.

The statue is located at the intersection of Puerta del Sol, in the heart of Madrid, the capital of Spain.

And I have two fotos of myself taken with this statue. The first one was in 2005 and the other one was in June, just two months ago. I have this odd feeling that the statue was moved, that it used to be standing right on the busy shopping street that intersects Puerto del Sol.

Foto on the left was taken during winter, February 2005 and on the right during summer, June 2011. Judging from the pictures I do not think I have changed much in 6 years.

For the history geeks, here is the history of the coat of arms (taken from Wikipedia) why Madrid City Council chose a bear sniffing fruits from a strawberry tree to use as its emblem:

‘When in 1212 took place the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa between Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Almohads, the council of Madrid sent a detachment in support of the Christian king. We know, by chronicles of the time, that these troops carried a flag or banner which identified them: a statant bear on a silver field. This is the first mention in history, of the shield of Madrid.

Soon after, in 1222, a fact took place that modified the shield of the town. The clergymen of the Madrilenian parishes confronted the Council for the use of the fodder in the fields and forests in the municipal jurisdiction. Those were important resources for both institutions, and both wanted the use of these lands. Due to the importance of both groups affected, a royal mediation was necessary. The sentence declared by Alfonso VIII determined that the fodder would belong to the clergymen, whereas the forests would pertain to the Council. This decision did not convince the clergymen, but satisfied the Council. In fact, the council was so satisfied, that it immediately modify the shield of the municipality, adding a tree as proof of its new possessions. The figure of the bear ceased to appear walking, to be over its back legs, eating fruits from the tree.’

More stories of Madrid soon!

Travel Period: June 2011
Destination: Madrid, Spain

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