Threaded with the history of Christopher Columbus and his journey to discover the Americas, Huelva is a port city with a thrilling tapas and bird-watching scene.
Article by Victoria Wood
Our city tour of Southern Spain takes us to Huelva; typically a place passed by en route to Portugal as you head from Seville out west towards the Algarve. So let’s tap in to the tapas, twitch at the birds, and peruse the port as we turn off at the Costa de la Luz this month.
Nestled between the Odiel and Rio Tinto river mouths, Huelva has plenty of natural beauty to offer. Beautiful beaches, sumptuous seafood and an abundance of historical landmarks and locations. Here are some of the top recommendations for what to do when in Huelva…
Plaza de las Monjas
Christopher Columbus watches over you as you wander around the The Plaza de las Monjas, this being the location of his famous statue. The statue depicts him holding a flag bearing the Crown of Castille in one hand, using the other to point West towards the Americas. Sit and people watch over a morning coffee in this delightful plaza.
Marismas del Odiel
When in Huelva you absolutely must visit the Marismas del Odiel. Be sure to grab a map from the visitors centre on your way as you’ll need some guidance to explore these incredible marsh lands. Pack your binoculars as there are so many amazing birds to be sighted. You can also arrange to see the sights by boat if you prefer to have your own guided tour.
Playa De El Portil
One of the most famous and top beaches in the south of Spain, Playa de El Portil is located in the small town of Portil, a quaint and popular seaside town. Surrounded by natural beauty, this beach is a must for those who just love a day beside the sea.
La Rabida Monastery
A beautiful old monastery where Christopher Columbus reportedly took a moment to pray prior to embarking on his epic journey to the Americas. Wander the tranquil gardens and step inside the monastery itself to experience the peace and serenity as well as the history surrounding this place of worship.
Castillo de Niebla
A little out of the way but well worth the effort to get there, the Castillo de Niebla is a deeply historical site where you can explore the castle and experience life as it would have been like for those inhabiting it. Beware though, the exhibits here portray some sinister scenes down in the dungeons where prisoners would be kept and tortured!
Monumento a la Virgen del Rocío
You can’t miss the Monumento a la Virgen del Rocío as her original statue is depicted being carried by sixty men. It sits proudly in the city centre honouring Our Lady of Rocio, the patron saint of Huelva.
Paseo de la Ría
This kilometre long boulevard sits alongside the left bank of the Rio Odiel stretching between the Muelle de Rio Tinto and Muelle de Pertrechos. The Paseo de la Ria offers a lovely setting for a wander, sit and grab a snack or drink from a kiosk and watch the epic sunset reflected over the water.
Museo de Huelva
Learn all about the history of Huelva, its rich culture and the surrounding areas at the Huelva museum. This is a really interesting museum filled to the brim with artefacts, eye-catching displays, Roman remains, and all the answers to the questions of Huelva’s past.
Mora Claros Palace
The 19th century palace of Mora Claros was built as the mayor’s home – an architectural landmark of the city which depicts the far-from-humble stature of the nobility in Spain at the time.
Plaza de Toros de La Merced
If you are someone who wants to experience the intense Spanish culture of bullfighting then step inside the Plaza de Toros de La Merced. Its vibrant red and gold arena can seat up to 15,000 spectators and reflects the rich traditions of Huelva. Check the website for their show timetables and prices.
Espacio Cero Art Gallery
Art lovers will simply adore the Espacio Cero. It is more than an art gallery in that as well as the exhibitions you can take a workshop, attend a concert or book launch, or listen to a poetry reading. Come and indulge, and get involved in art as a deep representation of life and culture.
Tejada La Vieja
This 3000+ year old archeological site may initially appear to be a pile of old rocks, but on closer inspection you will find that was once the incredible walled city of Tartessos. An amazing historical site well worth a visit.
Monasterio de Santa Clara en Moguer
Built in 1337 as a donation to the Franciscan – Clarisa nuns, Monasterio de Santa Clara en Moguer today stands as one of the Columbian sites. Christopher Columbus, upon his successful return from the Americas in 1493, entered this monastery to pray in thanksgiving for his voyage. Today, reverently enter the church and see the gorgeous stone archways within; admire the rich golds and reds adorning the sanctuary and see the place where Columbus himself prayed.
The stunning Gran Teatro offers plenty of performances to suit any taste, from comedy to flamenco and everything in between. The neoclassical interior will take you back to the 1920s when it was named by the Spanish king Alfonso XIII.
Playa El Espigon
This beach offers up plenty of kilometres to take a long walk and make use of the extensive sands by finding your own secluded spot to kick back, relax and enjoy the Playa El Espigon.
Casa Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez
Step inside the life and times of famous writer Juan Ramón Jiménez by visiting the Casa Museo Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez. The museum takes you on a tour of this house where you can enter all the rooms and library and practically take a walk in his shoes (you may still be able to find a pair in the wardrobe!).
Another beauty spot in Huelva comes in the form of the expansive Moret Park, the perfect location for an afternoon stroll, a bit of R&R, or utilise the many trails for a walk, run or bike ride. There’s also a stunning lake to wander round providing an idyllic place for a BBQ or picnic. This is the largest of Huelva’s parks providing the city with a glorious green zone.
Parque De La Luz
Right in the city centre sits the tranquil Parque de la Luz. Enjoy a welcome break from the hustle and bustle and take time out to wander through the park, relax under the shade of the trees or let the kids run free or play in the newly-equipped playground.
Botánico José Celestino Mutis (Botanical Park)
The stunning botanical park boasts 12 hectares and a vast variety of interesting flora both set in the enclosures as well as the extensive grounds. The park is designed around the river that runs through it, and is named after the renowned Spanish botanist, José Celestino Mutis.
This fountain, from the times of Christopher Columbus, was reportedly used to prepare the water stores for beginning their famous westward journey. It was a public water fountain which was built nearby an estuary of the Rio Tinto.
For more info on Huelva and upcoming festvals and attractions visit the official tourist site: https://turismo.huelva.es/en