San Javier is a prominent tourist municipality in the Murcia region with a population, according to 2019 data, of 32,489 inhabitants.
The first evidence of settlements in the area that today occupies the municipality of San Javier dates from the Palaeolithic era, although the true development of the area occurred during the Roman and Arab times.
The area where San Javier is currently located and its surroundings were highly valued by the Romans, who established a permanent settlement dedicated to the development of salting in an industrial way, thanks to the possibility of maritime transport of goods throughout the Roman Empire.
The Muslims called the Mar Menor “Belis” and described the adjacent town of San Javier as a port of refuge with the capacity to receive large ships thanks to its depth.
During the reoccupation by Alfonso X of the kingdom of Murcia (13th century), there were few fishermen and shepherds on the shores of the Mar Menor given the poor security of the area due to attacks by Berber pirates. In 1266 King Alfonso X ordered the residents of Murcia to support the fishermen and peasants of the coast in the defence against the pirates.
The inhabitants of Murcia were notified by means of light and smoke signals from the surveillance towers. The population was alerted from the tower of the Church of Saint Catalina.
Likewise, during the repopulation and development of these lands during the reign of Alfonso X, many people from Aragon and Navarra settled in the area. In these lands temples or chapels were built that in the early 18th century served as the basis for the growth of settlements like San Javier.
The name San Javier comes from Saint Francis Xavier, known as the “Apostle of the East.” He was recognized as a healer of the malarial fevers that were common in the area due to the marshes and swampy areas of the Mar Menor. His name was given to the hermitage of this growing population when it was beatified and later canonized in 1622.
As the raids by Algerian and Turkish pirates decreased in the early 18th century, San Javier as a settlement became more stable. Thanks to its geographical location and economic development, it was formalized as a municipality in 1836.
In 1943 the Air General Academy was created, which entailed the formation of a new population nucleus for the base personnel and their families, known as “City of the Air.” The Academy is home to the world-famous Eagle Patrol, the acrobatic patrol of the Spanish Air Force.
The tourist explosion of La Manga del Mar Menor began in 1960, and today it has become one of the most outstanding tourist destinations in the entire Iberian Peninsula.