El Puerto de Santa María (Spanish: "The Port of Saint Mary", locally known as just El Puerto) is a municipality located on the banks of the Guadalete River in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia. , the city has a population of c. 88,000, of which some 50,000 live in the urban center, and the remainder in the surrounding areas.
The town of El Puerto de Santa María is north east of Cádiz across the bay of Cádiz and is best known for having been the port from which Columbus sailed on his second voyage to the Americas.
According to the legend told in the Odyssey of Homer, after the Trojan War a Greek official named Menestheus escaped with his troops through the Straits of Gibraltar and reached the Guadalete River. They established themselves here and called that port Menestheus's port.
In 1260, Alfonso X of Castile conquered the city from the Moors and renamed it Santa María del Puerto. He organized the land distribution and conceded a charter under the Crown of Castile. Having received a royal charter the city was then allowed to use the title "El" prior to the name of the city itself. This is a distinguishing property and even though Madrid is the capital of Spain it has not earned this distinction. In his Cantigas de Santa Maria CSM 367, Alfonso sings that he was miraculously healed of swollen legs after visiting his church of Santa Maríado Porto.
Christopher Columbus's second expedition to the Americas set sail from El Puerto de Santa María. His pilot, Juan de la Cosa drew his world map (the first including the coast of New World) in El Puerto in 1500.
Columbus visited El Puerto in 1480 and received encouragement for his travel plans. He also met Juan de la Cosa who issued the first world map in 1500.
El Puerto was the residence of several wealthy cargadores, merchants who operated Spain's trade with the Americas.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the winter port of the royal galleys.