Sant Joan d’Alacant is close to everything. Our town has everything a visitor could wish. We are near the beach, near the mountain, near the capital, Alacant, and near the neighboring towns of El Campello, Mutxamel, Sant Vicent del Raspeig, Busot and Xixona.
The history of our town is closely linked to the Camp d’Alacant (Alicante’s Countryside). Since time immemorial our population cultivated the land, but it is in the sixteenth century when our period of greatest prosperity starts to take shape. This was possible thanks to the construction of a colossal engineering work, Tibi’s reservoir. It is the oldest dam in Europe, linked to a network of irrigation canals that distributed the water of the Montnegre river throughout the region of L’Alacantí.
The canals were the backbone of the landscape of the Orchard. These routes determined the urban layout of the town, some streets like Mayor or Maigmona were born following the Séquia Mayor (Main Ditch). An impressive patrimonial set, consisting of defensive towers and hermitages, farms and houses was developed as the result of the irrigation system linked to the Orchard from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.
The Torres de la Huerta (the Orchard Towers) were strategically distributed along the Camp d’Alacant (Alicante’s Countryside). They communicated with the watchtowers of the coast. They were built to alert the people of the village from attacks by the Berber pirates, very frequent from the mid-fifteenth century to the seventeenth century. Therefore, the network of towers served to protect the peasants and lords of the Orchard. The towers that are still preserved in Sant Joan d’Alacant are known as Ansaldo, La Cadena, Salafranca and Bonanza. In addition, the neighboring Alacant still has 19 towers and Mutxamel 3, although there were many more, they are missing today as a result of indiscriminate settlement growth. The whole set of defensive towers has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.
A network of roads provided the backbone of the system of orchards, canals, houses and towers. The town was formerly crossed by the two major crossings of Xátiva and Silla, which diverged in the centre of the town, where currently the Plaça Maisonnave (Maisonnave square) crosses with Church Street (Carrer de l’Església). Nowadays none of those roads passes through the village.
For centuries the work to ensure the conservation of the water system of the Orchade, like the Séquia Mayor (Main dicht), its armbands, open canals and the bridges that crossed it was intense. The Market of the irrigation water from Tibi’s reservoir used to take place in the Plaça Maisonnave (Maisonnave square), on the porch of the Bar Pepe.
Its proximity to the city of Alacant, determined the residential character of Sant Joan, where many wealthy families settled their second home, especially during the nineteenth century. Many dignitaries of the high society of Alacant lived in the estates and houses located in Sant Joan, such as Emilio Castelar, Benito Perez Galdos and Isaac Peral. The poet Ramón de Campoamor and Campoosorio lived with his wife in the O’Gorman estate, where he wrote some of his wonderful poems. The estates and houses still standing are witnesses of those fervent times, some of them with a valuable architectural interest: Abril, La Cadena, Buena Vista – Pritz, La Paz, La Princesa or Palmeretes, to name a few. Princess Pio and her husband, the Earl of Lumiares, resided in the Finca La Princesa, where the fondilló wine was grown.
The twentieth century has witnessed the town’s urban growth, favoured by the proximity to the city and beach, which has boosted cultural and social development. The creation of cultural, sporting and festive associations has allowed the preservation of our identity. The drastic decline in agricultural activity has given way to new economic sectors linked to services, leisure and culture. Moreover Sant Joan d’Alacant is closely linked with welfare and health, as it hosts the Clinical Hospital and the University Campus dedicated to health sciences.
Since the last decade we have been working on the recovery of historical heritage, and we continue to do so nowadays. Places like the House of Culture, the Cultural Centre (home of the municipal library and archive), together with our major parks and gardens, the commercial area of the Avinguda Miguel Hernández (Miguel Hernandez Avenue) and the traditional centre, along with the impressive heritage legacy treasured throughout our history, are the main values that will allow us to continue building a prosperous future.