Monday, 24 March 2008

El Olivo - The Olive Tree

The olive tree, along with the Castro Fortress, appears on the coat of arms of Vigo. When the emblem was first designed, it was a tower and two olive branches, later the olive branches were replaced with the olive tree.

There are a few stories as to how the tree ended up at its present position on Paseo de Alfonso XII and just as many as to who originally planted it. What is not in dispute is its original location, which was the courtyard of the old Colegiata (Collegiate) Church (which no longer stands) but where you will now find the 19th century Colegiata Santa Maria.

The tree we see today is not the original, but rather a descendant. It is said that the original tree was planted during the 12th century, around the times of the Knights Templar. In 1780 a large gunpowder explosion in a nearby military store destroyed the church. When plans were made to build a new church on the site, and the tree was to be uprooted, a man with foresight by the name of Manuel Ángel Pereyra had the presence of mind to take a cutting which he planted, and in doing so kept the emblem of peace for the city alive, for many more generations to come.

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