Dominated by its castle and church, together known as Castillo-Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, Aracena is an attractive town, the largest in the Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche. Unlike many fortified towns in Andalucia, the castle and church sit in isolated splendour on top of a hill. There has been no attempt to build houses nestled up to the walls. In 2006 Aracena was the first town in Huelva to receive the title, ‘Tourist Municipality’.
Aracena’s reconquest from the Moors occurred early, during the 13th century, and Aracena became part of Portugal. The border between Portugal and the Kingdom of Castile was disputed and finally resolved with the signing of the Treaty of Badajoz in 1267 when the present border, defined in part by the Rio Guadiana, was established. The castle at Aracena dates from this period although it was built on top of an older Moorish castle. The older part of town, at the foot of the hill, dates back to this late Mediaeval period. Over the centuries the town grew and expanded into the valley. In 1522 the second church, Santa Maria de la Ascunción, was built in the expanding town.
By the early 20th century, Aracena had grown into a gentile town and the opening of the Gruta de las Maravillas, Cave of Marvels, had started to bring tourists. The cave entrance is in the side of the hill on which sits the castle. The town became a favourite resort for the management of the Rio Tinto mining company.
Today there are pleasant squares and a plethora of restaurants in the newer parts of town and interesting streets with more restaurants and shops wending up through the older part.
Aracena is ideally placed to take advantage of the Parque Natural with all its walking and biking routes.
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Submitted by Val Anderson on 6 Oct 2019
Beautifully described and written
Thank you for what must be exhilarating work
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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