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  • the Catalan municipality of Alcanar is officially stated as being founded in 1252, despite having a charter signed in 1239?

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Alcanar
—  Municipality  —
Alcanar's harbour

Coat of arms
Alcanar is located in Catalonia
Alcanar
Location in Catalonia
Coordinates: 40°35′43″N 0°34′14″E / 40.59528°N 0.57056°E / 40.59528; 0.57056Coordinates: 40°35′43″N 0°34′14″E / 40.59528°N 0.57056°E / 40.59528; 0.57056
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Catalonia
Province Tarragona
Comarca Montsià
Government
 - Alcalde Alfons Montserrat (ERC)
Area
 - Total 47.1 km2 (18.2 sq mi)
Elevation 72 m (236 ft)
Population (2008)
 - Total 10,510
 - Density 223.1/km2 (577.9/sq mi)
 - Demonym canareus
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 43530
Official language(s)
Website Official website

Alcanar is a municipality of the Catalan district of Montsià. According to data from 2006 its population is 9,620 inhabitants, although this increased the next year, to 9,969.[1] It is the southernmost town in Catalonia, located on the border with Valencia. It includes the old fishing village of Las Casas de Alcanar, as well as most of Selleta and Alcanar Beach.

Contents

History

It was not until the fifteenth century that Alcanar was incorporated as an independent town, but the town has been populated for a long time before then. From 1148 the town was part of the municipality of Ulldecona.[2] After it was granted independence, it received the name of the Canar, which originates from republic of its inhabitants.

The original charter was granted in February of 1239, but as the stability of this settlement did not arrive until it was granted a new charter in 1252,[3][4] that date is regarded as the real foundation of the town. In 1380, the village already contained thirty families, and they were subjected to various attacks by Saracen pirates, which led to the construction of a lookout tower in the fourteenth century. As a precaution, the town was fortified and walled. In 1449, the town became independent of Ulldecona.[5]

During the war against John II of Castile, the town was occupied by troops of the king, who burned the town. During the reign of Philip II, various defence towers were built to cope with attacks by Turkish pirates, and Alcanar was again fortified.

In the Catalan Revolt of 1640-59, the town remained loyal to the king of Castile, which led to occupation of the city by Catalan troops. A similar event occurred during the Peninsular War. Later, during the First Carlist War, there was a siege of the city. The city was captured and looted by Carlist troops who held a strong position in the town for a time.[5]

Culture

The Alcan parish church dedicated to Saint Miguel is a major feature of the municipality. The church is built in the Renaissance style, with a single nave and side chapels; it originally consisted of four bays with a semicircular apse, which disappeared in some nineteenth century rebuilding. It was then expanded with a transept, dome base and a presbytery. It currently measures 19 metres wide with a total height of 16 metres. The access door is a half-point arc and is framed by two columns, and at the top are three niches framed by a triangular pediment. The belltower has a square base and windows on each side.

On the outskirts of the village is a shrine devoted to the Mare de Déu del Remei. It was built in the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth in a Gothic style. In the eighteenth century, a belltower, a crossing and a dome were added and the interior was expanded. Next to the shrine is the building of the former guest house in which retains a mosaic that represents the battle of Lepanto. The mosaic was part of the floor of the chapel until it was removed in the early nineteenth century, and as a result is very deteriorated. The image is venerated at the shrine is a small class of about 60 centimeters of the eighteenth century. The temple interior is decorated with a series of paintings made in 1920. The former altar pieces and part of the decoration were destroyed in 1936.

Along the coast are the defence towers, which were built between 1530 and 1630 to fend off pirates. They are all square, with door with voussoir, floor and vault. Most of them have been renovated, and are now used as houses or summer residences.

Economy and tourism

The tourism and second homes are a prominent factor in the Alcan economy. Near the Alcanar Beach, many housing developments have been built that increase the number of tourists during the summer months. One of the oldest summer residences is known as Clos de Codorniu, and once was home to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. It also has several hotels and campsites and other facilities designed to cater to tourism.

Agricultural activity continues to develop in the northern town, the furthest from the coast, mainly growing crops of oranges and clementines. Fishing remains important in Alcanar's smaller villages, and they are especially dedicated to catching prawns.[5]

References

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