The Muele del Tinto
On the 3rd August 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from the small town of Palos de la Frontera in Huelva province. His three ships, the Santa Maria, Niña and Pinta, and ninety men sailed to the Canary Islands where they reprovisioned and made repairs and then they sailed onwards. After 61 days at sea they reached the Bahamas and the rest, as they say, is history.
Every year for the last 150 years Huelva has celebrated this event with the Fiestas Colombinas. It is the oldest fiesta in Andalucia and one of the oldest in Spain, making it another historical first. This year is the 525th anniversary of the voyage and Huelva is planning something extra special.
The celebrations start this Tuesday the 1st August and carry on through the week culminating with a huge musical fireworks display on Sunday 6th August. This takes place over the estuary and the best place to see it will be the Muelle del Tinto, once a railway track, now a walkway that projects into the estuary. Separate events are happening all over the city, including Isla Chica and the centre of the city, the Plaza Las Monjas. There will be nightly demonstrations of Argentinian and Spanish American dancing. On the ‘Mapas de Musica’ stage there will be a host of artists and groups from Tuesday until Sunday.
Thursday the 3rd August is the main day with bullfights and various sporting contests, canoeing, football, swimming, sailing and fishing.
If you have business in Huelva during this week, forget it, the town closes down. Apart from the restaurants, bars and cafes that is and, judging from our last visit, you will experience some gastronomic pleasures. Huelva was proclaimed the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy in 2017, now that is a surprise isn’t it? There is even a ‘gravy train’, I am joking, it is actually a ‘Gastronomic Tourist Train’ that trundles through the streets taking you to various renowned eating establishments. Huelva is also due to host the 2017 International Wine and Spirits Competition, the 8th Virgin Olive Oil Tasting and Minimal Haute Cuisine Conference. It sounds like ‘My Kind of Town’ (my apologies to Frank Sinatra).
Julie and I stayed in Huelva last year. The city is still very much a working town. It is only recently that the Onubenses (residents of Huelva as they are known in Spanish), realised that, with its links to Columbus, the British Rio Tinto Mining Company and the mysterious WWII character Major William Martin they had quite a bit to offer tourists. The centre of the city is remarkably attractive and clean for such a busy place and the staff in the tourist office, in the main square, are very friendly, helpful and speak excellent English.
If Julie and I are incommunicado this week you will know where to find us.
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