El Condado (The County), is also known as the wine region of the province (with its own original denomination, "Vinos del Condado"). It covers the southeastern part of Huelva, coast and plain, and its crossed by dozens of brooks and streams that produce fertile grounds for vineyards, fruits and cereal crops. Incredibly rich in history too, Romans, Visigoths and Muslims forged the eighteen municipalities it includes. Apart from the ones highlighted here, equally attractive monuments and landscapes can be found in Beas, Hinojos, Escacena, Lucena del Puerto, Paterna del Campo or Villalba del Alcor.
La Palma is mostly defined by its industrial power, built around the wineries or Bodegas. But the town has grown always with style, and its Historic Quarter was declared place of cultural interest.
Architecturally, the convents of Nuestra Señora del Carmen and Las Hermanas de la Cruz compete in interest with the church of San Juan Bautista and the Shrine of El Valle, from the 18th and 15th centuries respectively. Among the civil buildings, the neoclassical town hall and the neo-Mudejar railway station are the most representative constructions. Most of the bodegas are also open to the public, offering an exclusive perspective on the city´s past and present.
As it tends to be the case in Spain, a village that works hard also celebrates hard. May Crosses and a solemn Easter are the religious counterparts to the Real Feria and the Feria de la Vendimia del Condado, both held in September to honor the harvest of the grape, and dating some six hundred years back.
The church of Santiago Apóstol, a mudejar construction from the 15th century rebuilt in baroque style after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, dominates the industrious villa of Bollullos, surrounded by vineyards and wineries, competing with La Palma as the capital of Huelva´s wine region.
Here most of the wineries can also be visited, like the old Vallejo one, which host the Museum of Wine. The city prides itself in the impulse given to gastronomy in the last few years, especially around the mesones, usually old warehouses reconditioned as large dining rooms. Some experts say here is where you can find the best seafood from Huelva´s coast.
Festivities begin early in the year, in February, with the Feast of San Sebastián, patron saint of the village. After that, Carnival, Easter and May Crosses, El Rocío pilgrimage and San Juan celebration in June, leading to the grape harvest festival (Feria de la Vendimia) in September.
Niebla is the capital of the Condado region, position it has held for many centuries. Called Ilipla Romana by the Romans, it was important enough as to mint its own coinage.
For the Visigoths it was an episcopal seat, and for the Muslims it was Niebla the Red, Labla Al-Hamra, capital of a taifa kingdom when Cordoba was the center of the Western world. The magnificent wall (La Muralla), with its fifty towers tells us about the splendor of that era. It has been documented how gun powder was used here for the first time in Europe during the siege of the village by the Christians in the XIII century.
Next to the wall, the Castle of Los Guzmanes, the church of San Martin –built over an old synagogue– are the best remains from Niebla´s glorious past. The well known Medieval Festival celebrates every year its multi cultural, multi confessional heritage.
Almonte‘s 16th century baroque town hall and 15th century mudejar church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción highlight its elegant past, but the village is universally known by two social and natural wonders: the pilgrimage of El Rocío and Doñana National Park.
Every year, around the feast of Pentecost, over a million pilgrims make the journey to venerate the Queen of the Marshlands, Our Lady of El Rocío at her shrine, fifteen kilometers south of Almonte. The tradition dates back to the 14th century as a local celebration. By the 17th it had become a Andalusian deal and, by the 19th, brotherhoods (Hermandades) had been established all over Spain. Today you can find them even in California. For a few days, religious fervor, singing, dancing, eating and drinking fill the bodies and the souls with emotional energy for the rest of the year.
As mentioned in other parts of this site, Doñana is Huelva´s natural jewel, the largest national park in Europe and one of the world´s most important natural reserves. Its 100,000 hectares of assorted environments host countless species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. Coastal dunes, pine groves, marshlands, lagoons and estuaries provide a privileged look into how hundreds of thousand years of biological evolution have changed the landscape in this part of Earth.