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San Juan del Puerto (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of San Juan del Puerto - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 5 September 2016

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Presentation of San Juan del Puerto

The municipality of San Juan del Puerto (8,832 inhabitants in 2015; 4,500 ha; municipal website) is located 15 km north-east of Huelva.

San Juan del Puerto was originally settled by the Romans, as evidenced by the old bridge over brook Candón, located on the road to Seville. The ruined fortified tower recalls the strategic significance of the place in the Muslim times.
The village developed around a small port (puerto) established on river Tinto by fishers and traders to ship fruit and wine produced locally. Trade developed in the 15th century; on the left bank of river Tinto; the ports of Palos and Moguer were out of control of the Counts of Niebla and Dukes of Medina Sidonia. Accordingly, Juan Alonso de Guzmán chartered in 1468 Puerto de San Juan (St. John's Port), located on the right bank of river Tinto. Mateo Morales, member of Columbus' second expedition to America, embarked from Puerto de San Juan in 1493.
In 1551, Puerto de San Juan was known as a lugar (inhabited place). Granted the title of villa on 17 July 1751 by Juan Claro de Guzmán, Count of Niebla, and renamed San Juan del Puerto, the town became in the 17th century a main trade hub, from which exported goods were redistributed all along the coast.
The port declined in the 19th century, but the exploitation of the Andévalo mines by English companies prevented the town from decline. In 1867, a wharf was built on the sea river of San Juan, connected with the El Buitrón railway; pyrites ore and agricultural products from Valverde, Beas and Trigueros were unloaded there. The railway, deemed unprofitable, was closed in 1969.

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2016

Symbols of San Juan del Puerto

The flag of San Juan del Puerto (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo), which was never officially registered, is horizontally divided blue-white-blue with the municipal coat of arms in the center.

Juan José Antequera proposed on 2 June 1995 a flag described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11 x 18, made of seven parallel stripes perpendicular to the hoist, the first, third, fifth, and seventh, white, of 1/9 of the [flag's] width, the second and the sixth, red, of 2/9, and the fourth, or central, blue, of 1/9. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.

The proposal was not adopted by the Municipal Council.

The coat of arms of San Juan del Puerto, which was never officially registered, either, is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Azure a two-sailed ship with pennants on the masts and the Spanish flag at stern over water all proper ensigned by a cross patty gules. The shield fimbriated gules and surmounted by a Duke's coronet.

An oval ink seal used in 1881 features a sailboat on water. A colour version from that period exists, designed in 1905 in Huelva by Lorenzo Suárez Payá / Payán in a very picturesque and symbolic manner. The Paschal lamb is represented on the sea shore. The arms in current use are surrounded by two branches of laurel crossed beneath the shield; this version of the arms dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, as evidenced by the shield represented on the facade of the Town Hall, which was built at the time. Considered as the genuine municipal coat of arms, this version is, indeed, a coloured seal used to stamp the official communications of the municipality.

Juan José Antequera proposed on 2 June 1995 a "rehabilitation" of the arms, correcting the shape of the shield, the tinctures and the crown, and suppressing inappropriate "exogenous elements". The water was replaced by adequate fesses wavy argent and azure. The sails were reduced to one, according to the heraldic use, while the national colours were dropped from the ship. The imperfect representation of the cross of St. John of Jerusalem was suppressed, since the Order never had any connection with San Juan, and substituted by the attributes of St. John the Baptist, a labarum charged with a cross. The proposed design, "Gules a sailboat or on waves argent and azure charged with a labarum or with a cross sable superimposed by a lamb nimbed of the same. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed", was not approved by the Municipal Council.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

Ivan Sache, 5 September 2016