Madrid: Bear And Strawberry Tree, Puerta del Sol
Bear And Strawberry Tree
The symbol of Madrid is that of a female Bear on its hind legs sniffing at a Strawberry Tree (1).
As everyone knows, strawberries do not grow on trees so how can this ever be?
Well, the tree is actually a Madroño tree, scientifically called Arbutus unedo, whose fruits look like strawberries (2).
Bear and Strawberry Trees were depicted possibly because bears love eating fruits of the Arbutus tree,
and both were plentiful in and around Madrid at the time of the 13th century;
At that time, a dispute between the Church and Madrid's City Council was brewing on the matter of territory (3),
Finally in 1222, the parties agreed to the Church owning the land and Madrileño* the rights to hunting and forest trees (4).
The City Council, wanting to make a statement, had Bear, emblem of Church, stand on its hind legs to sniff at Tree (5);
This is to show the Bear's subservience to the Tree, for latter symbolized the aristocracy (6),
But Bear depicted is female, which symbolizes the fertile soil of Madrid, and so one wonders if there is more to what we see.
Also trees draw nourishment from the soil, and if the Church owned the land, was she implying that she still held the key?
Moreover, it is reported that bears eating fermented fruits of Arbutus can get drunk and act with impropriety.
Is someone telling us also that no matter how fertile the soil is, misuse of the land may ruin it, resulting in low productivity?
Alas so many nuances and so many statements hidden in this simple Madrid symbol of the Bear and Strawberry Tree.
* (Madrileño: people of Madrid)
(1) (http://www.ctspanish.com/communities/madrid/bear.htm): Symbol of Madrid
(2) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbutus): Arbutus
(3) (http://hyperionzoomlover.blogspot.com/2011/07/spain-madrid-bullfighting-palcio-real.html): Spain, Madrid, Bullfighting, Palacio Real, Bear & Tree
(5) (http://www.nova.es/~jlb/mad_in94.htm): Medieval Madrid
(6) (http://www.aviewoncities.com/madrid/puertadelsol.htm): Puerta del Sol
For more poems, see book "Madrid The Unusual" at %Lhttp://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2425968]Blurb%L*