Between its outstanding beaches and charming mountains, Huelva displays beautiful interior plains of fertile soils and peaceful rural landscapes, where time seems to run even more slowly than in the rest of the province. Perhaps for that reason many of the international expatriates choose this area to settle. With the beaches and the sierra a short drive away this might be the right place to create and care of that orchard one always talks about.
The ruins of San Marcos castle disclose the village history as an strategic defensive post overlooking the river and, at the opposite shore, Portugal.
Sanlúcar –like neighboring Villablanca— has become in the last few years a magnet for international expatriates looking for an authentic place, quiet and, at the same time, close to Ayamonte´s gorgeous beaches, Huelva city –45 miles away– and, of course, Portugal.
A short ferry trip takes you to Alcoutim, on the Portuguese bank of the Guadiana. You can also drive through the Ayamonte bridge, but it adds 40 miles to the trip. If looking for an adrenaline rush, you can use the first international zip line ever: eight hundred yards and one minute frantic descent separate both countries.
Riotinto is the heart of Huelva´s mining basin, which includes the villages of Zalamea la Real and Nerva, and the boroughs of Campillo and Berrocal.
Considered the oldest mines in the world, myths talk about these being the fabled mines of King Salomon. The wealth of this soil was legendary in ancient times, drawing first the interest of Phoenicians, followed by Greek, Carthaginian and Roman rule. Silver was then the most appreciated metal, and copper would be the draw for British companies in the XIX century. The Riotinto Mining Company would leave in Huelva the practice of Golf and Soccer for the first time in Spain as well as a notorious group of architectural works.
Disrupting the green scenery of the bordering mountains, Riotinto and the mines surface as a sort of surreal landscape, between lunar and martian, depending on the dominant mineral underneath. The Tinto river naming the area (Tinto means “red”, as in “red wine”) gives you an idea of the prevalent color in the waters and the ground. Centuries of mining have produced the very peculiar chemical mix that today is studied by NASA as a probable scenario of what is to be found in Mars.
All this history and science can be lived at the Parque Minero, a unique theme park that includes a train expedition circling some of the biggest open tip mines in Europe, like Corta Atalaya and Cerro Colorado, or the old Roman mine of Cortalago.
The region of El Andévalo covers most of the western part of the province, and gets its name from an ancient god, Andeval, which ended in the altars of the Roman troops that once conquered the area.
The Guadiana river and the numerous dams across its tributaries have produced a very fertile terrain, making of the area one of the main agricultural reserves of Spain.
But what makes el Andévalo unique is its rich history. A crossroads between the sierra, the coast and the river, it is full of vestiges of its numerous settlers, from Visigoths to Romans. It is considered an area of special ethnological interest, as you can find a great diversity of folkloric celebrations, many of them far from the traditional ones associated to the South of Spain.
When it comes to gastronomy, the Andévalo also distinguishes itself from the coast and the sierra, with a more elaborated cuisine based on a type of endemic mushroom, the gurumelo. As for its music, this is the land were one of the most significant styles of flamenco singing was born: the Fandango de Huelva. To go with both, the food and the singing, there is also a famous native aguardiente and other liquors produced from local fruits.
Calañas, Villablanca, Tharsis, Paymogo, Puebla de Guzmán, Valverde del Camino, San Bartolomé, Alosno, El Almendro and Cerro del Andévalo are the main villages, each with its own history, traditions and cuisine.