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Puerto Real (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Puerto Real - Image from the Símbolos de Cadíz website, 30 March 2014

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Presentation of Puerto Real

The municipality of Puerto Real (41,537 inhabitants in 2013; 19,596 ha; municipal website) is located on the Bay of Cádiz, 15 km north-east of Cádiz.

Puerto Real (Royal Port) was established on 18 June 1483 by the Catholic Monarchs. Two further documents prescribed the rights, privileges and rules of development of the new town. Placed in 1488 under the jurisdiction of Jerez by Royal mandate, the town was confirmed, however, municipal autonomy. By Royal order, Puerto Real was the mandatory port for the maritime expeditions to North Africa; the town had to transfer 1/5 of its profits to the Crown. Charles I granted municipal independence to Puerto Real in 1543; the decision was challenged by Jerez until Philip II eventually confirmed the status of Royal domain of the town.

The new town was designed according to the canons of the Renaissance, with the streets arranged in a grid pattern. The original population was about 200 inhabitants, who lived from agriculture (grains, grapevine and olive), cattle-breeding, fishing and salt extraction. In the 17th century, the local eonomy was boosted by the setup of a shipyard and by the increase in maritime activity. Philip IV sold the town in 1646 to General Francisco Díaz Pimienta for 36,916 silver ducats. Puerto Real eventually acquired back the status of Royal town in 1676.
Invaded in 1702 by the Anglo-Dutch fleet and scoured by epidemics, Puerto Real slowly re-emerged in the next decades. Following the transfer of the Contract Office - the body that regulated the trade with the Americas - to Cádiz in 1717, Puerto Real became a made trade center. The whole area was fortified using stones extracted from the Puerto Real quarries. A local oligarchy emerged, which controlled the local economy on behalf of the Crown.

In 1797, an English fleet besieged Cádiz, forcing several inhabitants of the town to move to Puerto Real. A yellow fever epidemic dramatically decreased the population of the town in 1800. During the War of Independence, the French army used Puerto Real as a base camp for the siege of Cádiz; within two years (1810-1812), the town was totally ruined. At the same time, the loss of the Spanish colonies nearly suppressed the local economy. The reconstruction and reactivation of the town would take three decades.

Ivan Sache, 30 March 2014

Symbols of Puerto Real

The flag of Puerto Real is crimson red with the municipal coat of arms in the center. Although not officially approved, the flag is widely used, outdoors (photo, photo, photo) and indoors (photo, photo, photo), by the municipal administration.

The coat of arms of Puerto Real, submitted on 27 October 2004 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 20 January 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 1 February 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 21, p. 27 (text).
The coat of arms, "of traditional design by use and customs", is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Royal coat of arms of Castile surmounted by a Royal crown open; quartered with castles or on gules and lions rampant gules [indeed, purpure] on argent. A ripe pomegranate in the grafted base. in the middle of the cross are represented sitting on thrones King Ferdinand with a sword and of Queen Isabel in front of a canopy gules and two terrestrial hemispheres at the feet of the sovereigns.

All the elements of the arms refer to the Catholic Monarchs, founders of the town.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Cádiz (PDF file)]

According to Julio Gonzalez (1945), the early settlement already used a seal in 1453, displaying a tree upon stones between a castle and a lion. In 1675, Rodrigo Méndez Silva confirmed that the town's arms were "those of the Catholic Monarchs". Antonio Moya (Blasón de España) says they are "those of Spain". An anonymous manuscript from the 18th century confirms that the arms of the town are "the Royal arms granted by King Ferdinand V". The first detailed description of the arms was supplied by Francisco Piferrer (1860), as follows: "a quartered shield, quarters 1 and 4 red with a golden castle, quarters 2 and 3 silver with a red, rampant lion." The State Historical Archives (1876) describes the arms "in use since 1836" as "quartered of Castile and León an inescutcheon with a king and a queen on their thrones and in base two globes over waves".
[José Antonio Delgado y Orellana. Heráldica Municipal de la Provincia de Cádiz]

Klaus-Michael Schneider & Ivan Sache, 6 May 2014