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El Puerto de Santa María (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2022-09-08 by ivan sache
Keywords: el puerto de santa maría |
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Flag of El Puerto de Santa María - Image from Simbólos de Cádiz, 17 O£ctober 2021

See also:

Presentation of El Puerto de Santa María

The municipality of El Puerto de Santa María (89,142 inhabitants in 2013; 15,934 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km north of Cádiz.

El Puerto de Santa María was first settled in the Lower Paleolithic, as evidenced by the El Aculadero site. Las Arenas is a Mesolithic site, while remains of a Phoenician settlement (9th-3th BC), found near the Doña Blanca medieval tower, are under investigation. The local legend says that the town was founded by Menestheus, one of the leaders of the Athenian expedition against Troy. After the Muslim conquest, the place was known as Amarzia Alcanter (Salterns' Port), Alcanate (Arch), or Alcanatif (Bridge). After the Christian reconquest, Alfonso X the Wise renamed the place to Santa María del Puerto and chartered it in 1260 in order to boost re-settlement.

Subsequently incorporated to the Duchy of Medinaceli, the town experienced its heyday in the 15th-18th centuries. Christopher Columbus was the guest of the lords of El Puerto from 1483 to 1486, receiving support for his expedition to the New World. The Santa María was equipped in the port by Juán de la Cosa, Columbus' pilot in 1492; in 1500, he designed in El Puerto the first map ever showing America.
In the 16th-17th centuries, El Puerto was the winter base of the royal galleys and the headquarters of the Captaincy General of the Oceanic Sea. Accordingly, several naval expeditions were prepared there.
After the coronation of Philip V, the town applied for incorporation to the kingdom, which was obtained on 31 May 1729. The royal court stayed in the town the same year and the next ones.

El Puerto was used as its general headquarters by the French army during the siege of Cádiz (1810-1812). Ferdinand VII, kept prisoner by the Liberals in Cádiz, was released in 1823 by another French army, the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, which landed in El Puerto; this resulted in the cancellation of the Cádiz Constitution and the restoration of absolutism.

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2021

Symbols of El Puerto de Santa María

The flag of El Puerto de Santa María (photo, photo, photo, photo), adopted on 14 April 2021 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 9 June 2021 to the Directorate General of Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution issued on 24 June 2021 by the Directorate General of Local Administration and published on 8 July 2021 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 130, pp. 86-87 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular shape. Composed of two colors: green and yellow, each arranged in an horizontal stripe, green on top and yellow on bottom. In the flag's central part is placed the town's coat of arms.

The flag has been used since 1973, when it was, informally, decided to use the colors of the Brotherhood of El Rocio de El Puerto.
According to the memoir supporting the "rehabilitated" flag, redacted by Miguel Ángel Caballero, Head of the Division of Historic Heritage at the municipality, "Olive green and golden yellow are specifically connected with the town's environment and history. Olive green represents both the coastal part of the municipality, planted with pines and brooms forming a cloak that spreads to the hinterland, and the countryside extensively planted with olive trees and vineyards [...] while golden yellow is scattered, spread by the wind from one place to another: the smooth and golden sand that forms the coastal dunes of El Puerto. Sandstone extracted from the quarries of Sierra de San Cristóbal since the antiquity and used to build most of the town's architectural heritage (St. Mark Castle, Basilica Minor of Our Lady of the Miracles...) is also golden yellow. It also recalls Fino wine, El Puerto's liquid gold, the result of maturation of grapes exposed to the sun, El Puerto's sign of identity par excellence."
[Andalucía Información, 14 April 2021]

There is only one reference to the flag of El Puerto in municipal documentation. On 6 May 1977, the Municipal Council approved the hoisting of the Andalusian flag on the Town Hall, incidentally mentioning the town's flag in Article 2: "The Andalusian flag shall always be hoisted at the left of the red and yellow Spanish flag, as a symbol of Spain's national and political unity. At the right of the national flag shall be placed the flag of El Puerto de Santa María, representing the municipality, composed of the yellow and green colors."

There is, too, only one primary reference to the origin of the flag of El Puerto, an article published on 16 September 1995 in Diario de Cádiz by Andrés Gallardo.
In the late 1973, municipal councillors and servants met in the Town Hall to select the town's official flag. The red and yellow colors, proposed from a former flag [see below], were turned down because of the association of the red color with Communism. The blue color was also rejected to prevent confusion with the flag of Jerez. A flag horizontally divided green-yellow was eventually selected.
The flag was inaugurated in 1974 during the town's Feria (festival). Javier Merello, the Municipal Councillor in charge of beaches, ordered to change green for celestial blue; the new design was widely used in spring 1974 on the town's beaches until replaced by the green and yellow flag.
Rafael Sevilla, the Municipal Councillor who mostly pushed the green and yellow design, argued that "green is simply the merger of the sea and the land, while yellow reflects the wine-growing resources". Sevilla was also Chief Brother of the Brotherhood of El Rocio, which hoisted in 1973 on their headquarters the green and yellow flag, not as the town's flag but as their own. The mother Brotherhood of Almonte had allowed her component brotherhoods to use distinctive colors for their medal's cordons rather the generic green and white; the El Puerto Brotherhood simply changed white for yellow.

Accordingly, the flag of El Puerto has no historical roots. The "former flag" alluded to by Gallardo must be the red royal banner (pendón real), granted in 1746 to celebrate the incorporation of the town to the kingdom from the Duchy of Medinaceli in 1729. The banner was destroyed in 1958 in a blaze that broke out in a farm owned by the Count of Armíldez de Toledo. Gallardo, however, recalls that the royal banner cannot be properly considered as a flag representing the town, since the modern concept of town's flag did not exist at the time.
[José Luis Bueno Pinto. Gente del Puerto, 9 August 2017; Gente del Puerto, 10 August 2017]

The coat of arms of El Puerto de Santa María, adopted on 13 April 1989 by the Municipal Council and revised on 4 July 1991, as suggested on 15 February 1991 by the Royal Academy of Cordóba, is prescribed by Decree No. 227, adopted on 19 November 1991 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 14 January 1992 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 3, p. 113 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Azure a castle or ensigned with a statue sable of the Blessed Virgin, the town's patron saint, clad argent and shining or in base waves azure and argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The arms were derived from old seals of the town, starting with a wax seal used in 1479 by the Dukes of Medinaceli, featuring a castle ensigned by a representation of the Blessed Virgin. An official municipal document dated 1607 describes the town's arms as a castle surmounted by an image of the Blessed Virgin.
The reverse of the aforementioned royal banner of the town features four municipal coats of arms. The official arms used in 1772 and 1775 have the Virgin substituted by a star; the Virgin was re-established in 1783.
The Virgin was once again substituted by a five-pointed star in the arms used in 1823. Also featured on the arms of the neighboring towns of Chipiona and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the star is traditionally said to represent goddess Venus, recalling a temple dedicated to Venus once very popular in the whole region. In 1871, Pedro Antonio Pacheco provided some odd explanation for the substitution of the Virgin by a star, arguing that the image of the Virgin should not appear on civil documents, and that the size of the Virgin disrupted the design's balance. Other said that the two shields were used by the religious and civil authorities, however. Yet other scholars pointed out that in El Puerto de Santa María, planet Venus / Morning Star shows up just above the main tower of St. Mark's castle during a specific period of the year.
The use of he star might have been influenced by encyclopedism or the First Republic. The Virgin was re-established on the official drawing of the municipal arms made on 11 February 1937 by Juan Bottaro. The Virgin represented on the arms is Our Lady of the Miracles, patron saint and honorary, perpetual Mayor of the town.
[Manuel Rincón Sucino. Gente del Puerto, 26 October 2010]

The coat of arms represents the miracle that occurred during the siege of Alcanate by Alfonso X the Wise. The Virgin appeared on the tower of the castle and guided Alfonso, who could enter the town and seize it with only a few men, without fighting.
As a reward, the conquered town was renamed to Santa María del Puerto. The king dedicated poems to St. Mary, gathered in the Cancionero de Santa María del Puerto, to exalt her devotion. He built a fortified sanctuary, today St. Mark's castle, dedicated to the Virgin, soon a popular place of pilgrimage and of numerous miracles credited to the patron saint. Another miracle occurred when the king was healed from a bone disease by a statue of the Virgin venerated in the town, subsequently known as the Virgin of the Miracles. Due to the increasing flow of pilgrims, a new church was subsequently built out of the town, in the place known as Pozo Santo (Holy Well); the church is known today as the Basilica Minor of Our Lady of the Miracles.
The statue of Our Lady of the Miracles was canonically crowned on 8 September 1916 by Enrique Almaraz y Sanos (1867-1922), Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Montorio (1911) and Archbishop of Seville (1907-1920), representing Pope Benedict XV.
[Antonio Martín Pradas. Gente del Puerto, 14 December 2020]

The old, unofficial flag (photo, photo) had a very small coat of arms.
More recent unofficial flags (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) had the coat of arms bordered by a thin white outline.

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2021

Real Club Náutico Puerto de Santa María


Burgee of Real Club Náutico Puerto de Santa María - Image by José Carlos Alegría, 9 January 2009

The flag of the Real Club Náutico Puerto de Santa María, a club founded in 1949, is a red burgee with a blue St. George's cross.

José Carlos Alegría, 9 January 2009

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