Huelva Tourist Attractions
Huelva, chief town of its province, lies near the Atlantic coast of Andalusia (the Costa de la Luz) on the left bank of the Río Odiel, here 4km/2.5mi wide and navigable by ocean going vessels. A town on this site was known to the Romans as Onuba, and some scholars believe that it was the legendary ancient city of Tartessus (Tarshish). The commercial harbor of Huelva is one of the leading ports in Spain in terms of traffic handled, mainly due to the shipment of ore from the Río Tinto and Tharsis. The tunny and sardine fisheries and the associated fish canning industry also make important contributions to the town's economy. The establishment of oil refineries and other petro-chemical industries, with a consequent uncontrolled building boom, has led to a dramatic deterioration in the local environment.
The effects of the Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755 were felt as far away as Huelva, and much of the town was destroyed, leaving it with little in the way of historic buildings. Of the older buildings that survived the earthquake only a few churches are of any note.
Cathedral de la Merced
Huelva'sCathedral de la Merced (17th century) contains an image of ''La Cintra'' the town's patroness.
Although Huelva itself has relatively little in the way of tourist sights, there is much of historical interest in the surrounding area.
Round trips to La Rábida
Leave Huelva on the Seville road (N 431), and just beyond San Juan del Puerto (14km/9mi) take a road on the right which crosses the Río Tinto and comes to Moguer (alt. 51m/167ft), a little town situated on a hill 21km/13mi from Huelva. In the 16th century this was the starting-point of many voyages to America.
The church of Santa Clara in Moguer, which belonged to a once important convent founded in 1348, contains the very beautiful alabaster tombs of members of the Portocarrero family, founders of the convent, as well as a statue of the Virgin by Montañés and fine choir-stalls.
Juan Ramón Jiménez
The birthplace of the poet and Nobel Prize winner Juan Ramón Jiménez (born in Moguer in 1881) is now a museum.
Palos de la Frontera
The road continues southwest from Moguer, running close to the Río Tinto, to the old port of Palos de la Frontera, now silted up and decayed, which provided experienced seamen for many voyages to the New World in the age of discovery. Columbus sailed from here on August third 1492 and returned here from the New World on March 15th 1493, and Hernán Cortés landed in Palos de la Frontera after his conquest of Mexico. The church of San Jorge dates from 1473.
Downstream of Palos de la Frontera is the Franciscan friary of La Rábida, finely situated on a hill at the mouth of the Río Tinto. A cross at the entrance, erected in 1892, commemorates Columbus's stay here. After failing in 1485 to win the support of John II of Portugal for his plans Columbus and his son were given a friendly reception in the monastery and found an advocate in Prior Pérez de Marchena, Queen Isabella's confessor. After long negotiations Isabella was persuaded to conclude an agreement, signed and sealed in Santa Fe, making Columbus viceroy of any lands discovered. The 14th century church has a Mudéjar cloister and a small museum with mementos of the Conquistadors.
Punta del Cebo
The return to Huelva is by way of the bridge over the Río Tinto, from which there is a view of the 34m/112ft high Columbus Monument on the Punta del Cebo.
To the Río Copper-Mines
Leave Huelva on N 431 and at San Juan del Puerto (14km/9mi) turn left into N 435, which runs north into the Sierra Aracena. Off this road on the left is Trigueros, near which, at La Lobita, is the interesting Dolmen de Soto, believed to date from the second millennium B.C.
Rio Tinto Mining Area
The road runs via Valverde del Camino (alt. 270m/886ft), at the beginning of the Río Tinto mining area, within which almost all vegetation has been killed, to Zalamea la Real (alt. 387m/1270ft), where we turn east into C 421. The chief places on this road are Minas de Río Tinto and Nerva, in the heart of the copper-mining area. The mines in this area are among the richest in the world, and were already being worked in Iberian and Roman times. The pyrites found here, lying close to the surface, have a sulfur content of 85% and between 0.5 and 2% of copper. The mines, which can be visited, were originally British-owned, and the towns have something of the character of British mining towns.
Minas de Río Tinto - Mining Museum
In Minas de Río Tinto the Mining Museum covers the history of mining in the area and features a coach designed for Queen Victoria for a journey to India which never took place.These mines date to ancient times and some say they are the legendary mines of King Solomon.
From Minas de Río Tinto a local road runs north through the beautiful Sierra Aracena to the little hill town of Aracena (alt. 682m/2238ft), surrounded by plantations of olives, figs and almonds, with an excellent climate which has made it a popular health resort.
Convento de Santa Catalina
Cerro del Castillo
On the Cerro del Castillo in Aracena are remains of a Moorish stronghold which was taken over by the Templars.
Cuevas de las Maravillas
In the hill of Aracena are the Cuevas de las Maravillas, a 1,200m/1,300yd long cave system with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites and an underground lake.
Sierra de Aracena
From Aracena an excursion to the wonderful scenery of the Sierra de Aracena with its cork and holm oaks and to Jabugo, famous for its ham, is recommended.