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. This town has managed to treasure an extraordinary patrimonial, material and immaterial heritage through history. This has been possible thanks to the joint work between the neighbor towns and thanks to a masterful management of the natural resources of our territory.
Prehistoric, Iberian, Phoenician, Roman, Gothic, Byzantine and Muslim populations inhabited l’Horta d’Alacant for more than 6,000 years. The absence of notable archaeological evidence in Sant Joan d’Alacant, compared to the overwhelming number of sites in its immediate surroundings, does nothing other than to highlight the need to locate, study and preserve the archaeological remains of the municipality. Policies of conservation, appreciation and dissemination of the rich cultural heritage, will guarantee the history of the municipality since this archaeological heritage not only belongs to present generations but also to past and future generations.
Not so long ago the lands of Alacant, El Campello, Mutxamel and Sant Joan d’Alacant were articulated around a network of canals that were born at the Montnegre river. The irrigation flows were controlled through Tibi’s reservoir, Europe’s oldest dam. That society, mainly agricultural, grew a variety of horticultural products but it also elaborated other products like the fondilló wine, which became famous worldwide. Its peak was in the late nineteenth century, after the phylloxera epidemic in France. Subsequently phylloxera also devastated our wine production, constituting the beginning of the end of the Camp d’Alacant (Alacant’s countryside).
The Torres de l’Horta (Cropland Towers) were built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the prosperous l’horta d’Alacant (Alacant’s Cropland). In that period the Berber pirates often pillaged these lands looking for goods and slaves. A defence system formed by watchtowers strategically located on the coast was developed to mitigate these attacks. When the presence of hostile ships was detected by a tower, they proceeded to alert nearby populations through smoke signals. Thus its inhabitants could seek refuge. This ingenious system was an invisible wall that has earned the recognition of Asset of Cultural Interest.
The prosperity of the Camp d’Alacant (Alacant’s Countryside) during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries favoured the construction of large farm houses typical of the Orchade. During the nineteenth century the elite of the city of Alacant acquired the best farms as a sign of power and wealth. Some houses were refurbished under the nineteenth-century hygiene-based models and adapted to the preferences of the period shaped by Swiss or French influences. Many nobles and bourgeois used their estates located in Sant Joan d’Alacant as second homes, giving rise to what we now call summer holiday. Others, instead, chose the town as their habitual residence, fleeing from the bustle of the capital.
Sant Joan d’Alacant has many hermitages scattered through the Alacant’s Horta. Nowadays citizens of Sant Joan continue to celebrate their religious traditions there. They are located next to the traditional roads. The oldest are the Hermitage of Sant Roc (16th c.), Mare de Déu de Loreto (16th c.), the Chapel of Santa Anna (18th c.), and Calvari (18th c.). These hermitages were erected after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which led to the ratification of certain popular practices related to the devotion to the saints and the cult of the Virgin.
The history of Sant Joan is intimately linked to the history of Alacant and other towns of the former Alacant’s Cropland. There are several population centres asociated with the old Muslim estates, such as Benimagell and Maigmona or possibly Santa Faz. Many Muslim place names are found in the town, some especially linked to Sant Joan like Benimagrell, Benialí or Lloixa. The name of Sant Joan was first mentioned in 1315 in a document of “Procés de Sarraïns a l’Horta d’Alacant” (“Process of Saracens at Alacant’s Horta”). According to this document, Sant Joan was located on both sides of the Séquia Major (Main Ditch’).