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The Málaga Flag

"Green and purple", goes the famous folk song from Málaga

Granted by the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) after the city's conquest. They gave it the traditional green that reminded them of the fields of distant León (or perhaps because green is the colour of Islam), and the purple colour, not violet, due to this hue's deep connection with this city. The Málaga flag proudly displays the city's crest in its centre.

So why is the colour purple or violet so linked to the city?

From the dawn of the ancient times, Málaga's coastlines were brimming with dye factories that produced purple, a hue greatly appreciated by the Phoenicians for its high quality, leading them to trade with them even more than with their own factories in Tyre. This shade was obtained from molluscs known as Murex brandaris, popularly known in Málaga as 'búzano'. Archaeological evidence scattered throughout the city supports this theory, first proposed by Málaga's archaeologist Manuel Rodríguez de Berlanga in 1905. It was said that a single dip gave a red colour, and two dips produced the prized purple.

Titus Livius, when narrating the Battle of Cannae, described Hannibal's army in admirable purple tunics dyed in the Málaga factories, contrasting the nakedness of the Celts and Gauls. The Bible also refers to this colour in Exodus, listing it among the pleasant riches in the eyes of God, alongside gold, silver, and bronze. In other religions, it's a colour symbolising power. There are more romantic theories about the colour of the Málaga flag. One such says that in Mount Gibralfaro, when the direct sunlight hit the rock, it took on green and purple hues, and therefore, these were chosen as the symbols of the city of Málaga. A charming theory indeed, but one lacking any documentary evidence to confirm it.

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