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Guide to El Rocio, in the Doñana National Park

El Rocio, in the Donana National Park in Huelva province, Andalucia, is famous for its annual romeria

By Nick Nutter | Updated 23 Mar 2022 | Huelva | Villages | Login to add to YOUR Favourites or Read Later
El Rocio

El Rocio

Introduction

El Rocio is a small town in Huelva Province on the edge of the Doñana National Park famous for its annual romeria. On a normal day, the wildfowl and waders on the lagoon easily outnumber the humans. At Whitsuntide, this quiet village, with a resident population of just over seven hundred people, is engulfed by over 1 million pilgrims and visitors for the Romeria de El Rocio, the largest romeria of its kind in Spain.


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Romeria de El Rocio

El Rocio

El Rocio

On Whit Sunday, the town of El Rocio will be packed with pilgrims who have traveled there from all over southern Andalucia. Some will have arrived on horseback, some by ox cart, most will arrive hot and tired on foot having spent an entire week on the journey.

For a full description of the romeria, click here.


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The Village

El Rocio

El Rocio

The village has a style all of its own. Every building, apart from the church, has a hitching rail, none of the roads are surfaced except with compacted sand. Even the building style is faintly reminiscent of an American western town, not quite Tabernas but this is after all a living village not a film set. There are a few cafes, three souvenir shops, one hotel, one discotheque and one restaurant. At weekends visitors outnumber the locals, El Rocio has a resident population of about 700, but during the week you are likely to be the only person disturbing the tranquility. It is apparent that El Rocio has far more houses and public buildings than are required for its small population. Many of the larger buildings are dedicated to a particular hermandades so remain closed all year until the Romeria. Most of the houses are similarly unoccupied year round having been built by families for use during the Romeria.

The largest building by far is the church, the Ermita de Nuestra Senora de El Rocio. It is huge, far larger than many town churches and still way too small to house all the pilgrims, estimated at over a million, that arrive each year


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The Wetlands

El Rocio

El Rocio

Outnumbering both are the waders on the wetlands that border the village, the reason many visitors arrive at El Rocio for it is right on the edge of the protected area of the Doñana.

On one day in early March the marismas, not 100 metres from the car park, hosted hundreds of Glossy Ibis, twenty or more Spoonbills, Flamingos, White Storks, Snipe and Herons. There was a representative of each of the Egret species, cattle, great white and little, moving around the feet of the particular breed of wild horses that live in the Doñana on the drier parts of the marismas.

From the car park there is a walk around the edge of the wetlands that also takes you half way around the village itself. You will notice that the back rooms of the hotel offer a fine view over the marismas, they must be in great demand.

El Rocio

El Rocio

El Rocio

El Rocio


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