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The Official Symbol of Madrid

The symbol of Madrid

When I saw this statue in Plaza de Sol, Madrid, I was told that this statue is The Symbol of Madrid. A tree and a bear? I was intrigued enough to find out the story behind it.

Bear and the Madroño tree.

The official symbol of Madrid is a bear rearing up on its hind legs and feasting on berries of a tree. Sometimes it is called as the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. But is it really a strawberry tree? No ! This in fact is Madroño tree which sounds like Madrid and is not even a native to Madrid. The berries of the Madroño tree are red like strawberries, very sweet and are really not good if eaten raw unlike strawberries. The fruit makes a good jam though.

Coming back to the story which goes like this. –
Way back in thirteenth century the council was using fodder in the fields and forests in the municipal jurisdiction of the region. This was not acceptable to the clergymen. Since these were important resources for both institutions; both wanted the use of these lands. The dispute over hunting rights on the land continued till the King Alfonso VIII decided that the fodder would belong to the clergymen, whereas the forests would pertain to the Council.
The Council was happier than the clergymen. It immediately modified the shield of the municipality, adding a tree as proof of its new possessions. Till then the shield had displayed a walking bear which was found in large numbers in surrounding areas. Now the bear stood on its hind legs to eat fruits from the tree. 😀

Weighing almost 20 tons this statue is a symbol for Madrid’s growth and represents the possession and importance of wood which is essential to build a country.

Today this symbol can be seen across the city, emblazoned on taxis, buses, pavements, bins and almost everything belonging to the city.

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