Huelva

With mile upon mile of dunes and sandy, white beaches, stretching interruptedly from the Guadiana marking the frontier with Portugal to the mouth of the Guadalquivir, and countless marinas and harbours, Huelva has always been associated with the sea; it was from Palos, a harbour located on the left bank of the River Tinto, that Christopher Columbus set sail on his epic journey of discovery.

Throughout history, Huelva has been important for its rich mineral deposits; gold and silver in ancient times, and then copper and pyrites in the modern era. The English neighbourhood of the city of Huelva is a reminder of how important the mining industry was here at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.

To the north in the Sierra de Aracena and the natural park of the same name, where the Rivers Tinto and Odiel have their sources, black pigs scavenge in the ilex forests for the acorns that give the Jabugo ham its distinctive flavour. Another area of exceptional beauty is Doñana – both a national park and Biosphere Reserve – the only ecosystem of its kind in Europe, which together with the Odiel salt marshes are a must for nature lovers and ornithologists.

Wine and strawberries are the chief produce of the farming district of Almonte, which is also famous for its multitudinous yearly pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of Rocio, in the village of the same name.

A visit to the castle at Niebla, followed by lunch or dinner at one of the beach restaurants on the Costa de la Luz, makes for a pleasant day out. The Gruta de las Maravillas, a cave complex near Aracena, is also well worth a visit; after which it would be a sin not to stop off at Aracena or any one of the surrounding villages to savour a platter of succulent "Pata Negra" ham.

Some places of interest: Almonte, Aracena, Ayamonte, Cartaya, Costa de la Luz, Doñana, El Rocio, El Rompido, Huelva, Isla Canela, Isla Cristina, Lepe, Matalascañas, Mazagon, Minas de Rio Tinto, Moguer, Odiel, Palos de la Frontera, Punta Umbria, Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche, etc.

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