Poor old Huelva, it does have a rep as an unlovely town as everyone, including some of its inhabitants, were keen to tell me. My first impressions weren’t great but it did grow on me during the five days in December 2015 that I was there. By all appearances it seems to be a completely modern town however there is a lot of history if you scratch the surface.
Google map here.
Since ancient times the area has been a source of metals for just about every major Mediterranean civilisation from the Phoenicians and Greeks, through to the Romans and Arabs. Artefacts from these civilisations can be seen at the small but interesting Museo De Huelva at 13 Avenida Alameda Sondheim www.museosdeandalucia.es Entrance is free.
The museum has a small collection of Pagan idols.
Some original Arabic ceramic tiles can also be seen.
I’m not sure about the origins of this jug but I love the two animals incorporated into the design.
The metal deposits and mining activity are the reasons the Rio Tinto (one of two rivers that meet at Huelva, the Odiel is the other) got its name. The reddish colour of its water is due to copper and other heavy metals being washed into it.
In 1873 the British arrived and formed the Rio Tinto mining company to exploit these resources. The company is now a huge multinational, one of the biggest in the world, although it no longer operates in its birthplace. However the company’s influence can still be seen all over the city.
A couple of doors down from the museum, is Casa Colon, a British built hotel that now houses the city archives. It’s one of the older buildings in town but not particularly photogenic. However it would make a good starting point for the ‘Ruta Ingles’, a heritage route set up by the local council, as you can upload a guide to the route onto your mobile by scanning the barcode on a sign in front of the building.
A bronze statue of the Virgin del Rocio being paraded in the street stands opposite Casa Colon.
The procession draws around a million people each year.
Just up the road is the incongruous Barrio de Reina Victoria, also called the Barrio Obrero (Workers’ District), an estate of British-style semi-detached houses that Rio Tinto built for its workers.
In terms of architecture there’s very little else to see. Another old station, Antigua Estación de Zafra , can be seen at on Avenida Alemania near the bus station.
There are a couple of nice buildings along Calle Vásquez López. Next to Portichuelo (see my restaurant post) is the Gran Teatro de Huelva at 13 Calle López www.festicinehuelva.com which has a nice neo-classical façade.
And opposite the theatre is the Casa de los Conchas which has some beautiful ceramic tiles above the windows and doors.
I quite liked the iridescent tiles on this house at 40 Calle López although my photos don’t show them to their full effect.
The oldest church in the city is the Parroquia Mayor de San Pedro Apóstol in Plaza San Pedro, The pretty pink bell tower is a symbol of the city.
There are various other bits and pieces of architecture to be seen but I think these are the highlights. Much of the town was wiped out in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake (Portugal is only 50km away) and so there is nothing truly old remaining.