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Huelva (Spain) (41302627111) (cropped).jpg
Flag of Huelva
Coat of arms of Huelva
Coat of arms
Portus Maris et Terrae Custodia
Huelva is located in Spain
Huelva is located in Andalusia
Coordinates: 37°15′N 6°57′W / 37.250°N 6.950°W / 37.250; -6.950Coordinates: 37°15′N 6°57′W / 37.250°N 6.950°W / 37.250; -6.950
FoundedTenth century BC
 • MayorGabriel Cruz Santana (PSOE)
 • Total149 km2 (58 sq mi)
54 m (177 ft)
 • Total144,258
 • Density970/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Demonym(s)onubense, (colloquially) choquero/a
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
21001 and otros
WebsiteOfficial website

Huelva (US: /ˈwɛlvə, ˈ(h)wɛlvɑː/,[2][3] Spanish: [ˈwelβa]) is a city in southwestern Spain, the capital of the province of Huelva in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is located along the Gulf of Cádiz coast, in the estuary formed by the confluence of the Odiel and Tinto rivers. Being less exposed to moderating waters than other coastal cities through the inlet shelter warms up Huelva's summers in comparison to fellow Andalusian coastal cities. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 149,410. Huelva is home to Recreativo de Huelva, the oldest football club in Spain.

It has been tentatively defended the existence of pre-Phoenician settlement on the current urban limits since circa 1250 BC, with Phoenicians establishing a stable colony roughly by the 9th century BC.[4]


Ancient history[edit]

Roman coin with the Onuba inscription

The city may be the site of Tartessus; it was called ʿunʿu baʿl ("Baal's fort") by the Phoenicians. The Greeks kept the name and rendered it Ὄνοβα (Onoba). It was in the hands of the Turdetani at the time of conquest by Rome, and before the conquest it issued silver coins with Iberian legends. It was called both Onoba Aestuaria[5] or Onuba (used on coinage) during Roman times, or, simply, Onoba.[6] The city was incorporated into the Roman province of Hispania Baetica. According to the Antonine Itinerary, it was a maritime town between the rivers Anas, (modern Guadiana) and Baetis (modern Guadalquivir); it was situated on the estuary of the River Luxia (modern Odiel), and on the road from the mouth of the Anas to Augusta Emerita (modern Mérida).[7] There are still some Roman remains. The city had a mint; and many coins have been found there bearing the name of the town as Onuba.[8] Modern inhabitants are called Onubenses in Spanish. Part of a large wooden wheel that was originally used to drain a copper mine in Huelva was discovered in the late nineteenth century. Dating to the Roman times, it was donated by the British mining company Rio Tinto to the British Museum in 1889.[9]

Middle ages[edit]

Soon after the beginning of the Umayyad invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, Onuba was seized by the troops of Musa ibn Nusayr by April 712.[10] The Arabs then called it ولبة (Walba).

During the fitna of al-Andalus a weak and ephemeral taifa emerged following the demise of the Umayyad control over the area: the bakrid taifa of Saltés and Huelva, longing from 1012 to 1051, when it was annexed by the more powerful Taifa of Seville,[11] to be later occupied by the Almoravids in 1091. By 1262, the city —then part of the Taifa of Niebla— was taken by Alfonso X of Castile.[11][12]

Following the Christian conquest, the city became a realengo for a brief spell until it was ceded in Lordship to Admiral Juan Mathé de la Luna [es] in 1293 by Sancho IV of Castile.[13] After a spell during which Huelva was probably controlled by Seville, the tenency of the lordship was passed to several lords, including Alonso Meléndez de Guzmán —brother of Eleanor de Guzmán— (in 1338) and Juan Alfonso de la Cerda (c. 1344).[14] Huelva, again a realengo for a small period during the reign of Peter I, saw its privileges confirmed and was granted the right to choose the alcalde and the alguacil in 1351.[15] The lordship was soon given to King's Mistress María de Padilla.[14]

Early modern history[edit]

18th-century depiction of the port and city

It suffered substantial damage in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

Modern history[edit]

Mines in the countryside send copper and pyrite to the port for export. From about 1873, the most important company in the area was Rio Tinto, the British mining firm.[16]

New pier-jetty of the Minas de Riotinto railway station, about to be opened in 1876.

The mining operations caused severe sulfur dioxide pollution and were frequently accompanied by protests of local farmers, peasants and miners, allied under the anarchist syndicalist leader Maximiliano Tornet. On 4 February 1888, the Pavi Regiment of the Spanish Army opened fire on demonstrators at the village plaza of Rio Tinto. Historians estimate the number of deaths between 100 and 200.[17] Environmentalists from the nearby Nerva village referred to 1888 as the "year of shots" a hundred years later in their protests against the province government's plans to site a large waste dump in a disused mine in the 1990s.[18]

The local football club, Recreativo de Huelva was founded in 1889 by workers of Rio Tinto Group, a British mining company. Nicknamed the "Dean" of Spanish football, it is the longest living football club in the country.

The 17–18 July 1936 military coup d'état that started the Spanish Civil War failed in the city and much of the province. However, on 27 July 500 guardias civiles rose in arms against the Republic in the city, with the authorities escaping and later being shot down.[19] Two days later, on 29 July, a rebel column from Seville on behalf of Gonzalo Queipo de Llano took control of the city.[19] For the rest of the conflict it remained to the rear of the zone controlled by the Rebel faction. The ensuing Francoist repression took a heavy toll, with an estimated total of 6,019 deaths all over the province for the rearguard and post-war repression.[20]

During World War II, the city was a hub of espionage activities led by members of the large British and German communities. German activity centered on reporting British shipping moving in and out of the Atlantic. Most famously, the city was the location where Operation Mincemeat allowed a body carrying false information to wash ashore.[16][21][n. 1]

25 years after the city was declared a Polo de Desarrollo Industrial ("Pole of Industrial Development") in 1964, the population had nearly doubled.[23]

On 11 October 2005, Hurricane Vince made landfall in Huelva as a tropical depression.


(Huelva) Seville, Spain (49104522676) (cropped).jpg

Huelva is located in the Southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in the Gulf of Cádiz, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline straddling along the Gulf of Cádiz is known as Costa de la Luz. The city lies next to the estuary formed by the confluence of the Odiel and Tinto, sandwiched in between both rivers.

A rather wide estuary in ancient times, the estuary of Huelva progressively silted up to a large extent.[24]


Huelva is home to Grupo Damas, a provincial bus company. Huelva's train station is now a shadow of its former self, and exists on a spur line. There are no trains to Portugal. Huelva's port hosts Naviera Armas' ferry Volcan del Teide, on which one can travel weekly to Arrecife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Huelva does not have an airport. The closest airports to the city are Faro Airport (93 km as the crow flies) and Seville Airport (95 km).[25]


View of the port with a mixed cargo & fishing use

The is divided in two sectors: the inner port (in the city) and the outer port (the main one):

  • The Inner Port (one wharf). Constructed in 1972, the East Wharf, replaced constructed harbour facilities of inferior quality between 1900 and 1910. At the moment it is the wharf used for smaller traffic including tourist boats.
  • The Outer Port (six wharves) was built in 1965, and is located to the south of the River Tinto.

The Muelle de Riotinto was built in 1874-76 for the export of ore from Huelva to Britain. It is no longer in commercial use but is now a tourist attraction.


Huelva had a population of 149,410 in 2010. The city experienced a population boom in the nineteenth century, due to the exploitation of mineral resources in the area, and another with the construction of the Polo de Desarrollo in the 1960s. It had a population of 5,377 inhabitants in 1787, which had risen to only 8,519 by 1857. From 1887, the city experienced rapid growth, reaching 21,539 residents in 1900, 56,427 in 1940, and 96,689 in 1970. Rapid expansion occurred in the following decades and the population reached 141,479 by 1991.

In the last ten years,[when?] immigration both from abroad and from the surrounding area have sustained population growth. In 2007, the city reached the 145,000 mark, while the metropolitan area had nearly 232,000 inhabitants, encompassing the surrounding areas of Aljaraque, Moguer, San Juan del Puerto, Punta Umbría, Gibraleón, and Palos de la Frontera. The 2006 census recorded a foreign population of almost 5,000 people in the urban centre, the majority of whom were of Moroccan origin.


Huelva and its metropolitan area have a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), characterized by mild and wet winters and long warm to hot and dry summers. The average annual temperature is 23.9 °C (75.0 °F) during the day and 12.4 °C (54.3 °F) at night. The average annual precipitation is 525 mm (20.7 in) per year, there are about 52 rainy days per year. Extreme temperatures have been 43.8 °C (110.8 °F) recorded on 25 July 2004 and −3.2 °C (26.2 °F) recorded on 28 January 2005 at Ronda Este.

Climate data for Huelva, Ronda Este 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.0
Average high °C (°F) 16.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.0
Average low °C (°F) 5.9
Record low °C (°F) −3.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 71
Average precipitation days (≥ 1mm) 7 6 4 6 4 1 0 0 2 6 6 8 52
Average relative humidity (%) 77 74 68 65 62 57 51 55 61 69 73 78 66
Mean monthly sunshine hours 165 171 229 255 296 341 367 340 268 211 176 151 2,970
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[26]
Monument to the Discovery Faith, a 37-metre-tall sculpture by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney celebrating the Columbian exploration of the Americas.


The most well-known artists in Huelva have been: the poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Juan Ramón Jiménez, the sculptor Antonio León Ortega, the writer Nicolas Tenorio Cerero and the painter Daniel Vázquez Díaz.
Other outstanding artists from Huelva include the painters José Caballero, Pedro Gómez y Gómez, Antonio Brunt, Mateo Orduña Castellano, Pablo Martínez Coto, Manuel Moreno Díaz, Juan Manuel Seisdedos Romero, Francisco Doménech, Esperanza Abot, José María Labrador, Sebastián García Vázquez, Pilar Barroso, Juan Carlos Castro Crespo, Lola Martín, Antonio Gómez Feu, Rafael Aguilera, and Florencio Aguilera Correa. Miguel Biez, called el Litri, is perhaps the town's most famous artist; he was gored in a bullfight in 1929.[16]


  • Carnaval, fiesta
  • Festival de Cine Iberoamericano de Huelva
  • Columbian Festivals, fiesta first week of August
  • Fiestas de la Cinta, between 3–8 September
  • San Sebastián, festival 20 January
  • Semana Santa (Easter Week)
  • Virgen de la Cinta, fiesta 8 September
  • El Rocio Romeria pilgrimage, every seventh August, a statue of the Virgin of el Rocio travels at night from El Rocio to Almonte.[27]


Near Huelva lay Herculis Insula, mentioned by Strabo (iii. p. 170), called Ἡράκλεια by Steph. B. (s. v.), now Isla Saltés ("Saltes Island").

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Huelva is twinned with:

See also[edit]


Informational notes
  1. ^ The fictional "Major William Martin, Royal Marines" of Operation Mincemeat is buried in the San Marco section of the cemetery of Nuestra Senora under a headstone that reads:

    William Martin, born 29 March 1907, died 24 April 1943, beloved son of John Glyndwyr and the late Antonia Martin of Cardiff, Wales, DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI, R.I.P.[16]

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission in January 1998 added an inscription to the gravestone,[22] which reads:

    Glyndwr Michael served as Major William Martin.

  1. ^ Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. ^ "Huelva". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Huelva". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  4. ^ Padilla-Monge, Aurelio (2015). "Huelva y el inicio de la colonización fenicia de la Península Ibérica". Pyrenae. 47 (1): 95–96. doi:10.1344/Pyrenae2016.vol47num1.3. ISSN 0079-8215.
  5. ^ Greek: Ὄνοβα Αἰστουάρια, Ptolemy, ii. 4. § 5.
  6. ^ Strabo, iii. p. 143, Pomponius Mela, iii. 1. § 5.
  7. ^ Antonine Itinerary, p. 431
  8. ^ Enrique Florez, Med. ii. pp. 510, 649; Théodore Edme Mionnet, i. p. 23, Suppl. p. 39; Sestini, Med. Isp. p. 75, ap. Friedrich August Ukert, vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 340.
  9. ^ British Museum Collection
  10. ^ Amat Cortés, Joan (2008). "La ocupación árabe de Besalú". Quaderns de les Assemblees d'Estudis (10).
  11. ^ a b Mazzoli-Guintard, Christine (2004). "Alejandro Garcia Sanjuán. — La Huelva islámica, una ciudad del Occidente de al- Andalus (siglos VIII-XIII). Séville, Univ. de Sévilla-Excmo, 2002 (Historia y Geografia, 61)". Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale (47): 191–192.
  12. ^ García-Arreciado Batanero 1988, p. 175.
  13. ^ Sánchez Saus, Rafael (2017). "Caracterización de la nobleza medieval en el área onubense". In Juan Luis Carriazo Rubio & José María Miura Andrades (ed.). Huelva en la Edad Media. Huelva: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Huelva. p. 40. ISBN 978-84-17066-07-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  14. ^ a b García-Arreciado Batanero, María Auxiliadora (1988). "La villa de Huelva en la Baja Edad Media" (PDF). Huelva en su historia (2): 178–179. ISSN 1136-6877.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  15. ^ Ladero Quesada, Miguel Ángel (2017). "Los señoríos medievales onubenses. Período de formación". In Juan Luis Carriazo Rubio & José María Miura Andrades (ed.). Huelva en la Edad Media. Huelva: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Huelva. p. 218. ISBN 978-84-17066-07-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  16. ^ a b c d Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat; How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, Harmony Books, Chapter 8
  17. ^ David Avery, Not on Queen Victoria's Birthday: The Story of the Rio Tinto Mines, Collins, London, 1974. p. 207; 6, pp. 83 ff.
  18. ^ Joan Martinez-Alier, Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation, in Journal of Hazardous Materials 86 (2001) 153–170
  19. ^ a b Díaz Domínguez, María Paz (2016). Cincuenta años en la prensa de Huelva: de los años veinte a los albores de la democracia (1923-1975). Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Huelva. p. 148. ISBN 978-84-16621-80-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  20. ^ Cobo Romero, Francisco (2012). "Las cifras de la violencia institucional y las implicaciones de la represión sobre las actitudes sociales y políticas de la población andaluza". In Francisco Cobo Romero (ed.). La represión franquista en Andalucía: balance historiográfico, perspectivas teóricas y análisis de los resultados (PDF). 1. Centro de Estudios Andaluces. p. 90. ISBN 978-84-939926-0-6.
  21. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm, Pandora's Briefcase, The New Yorker, 10 May 2010, reprised 2015.07.26 by Henry Finder in a New Yorker newsletter
  22. ^ "Operation Mincemeat". The National Archives. February 1993.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Martínez Chacón, Alfonso (1992). "La ciudad de Huelva : evolución, estructura y problemática actual" (PDF). Huelva en su Historia. 4: 317.
  24. ^ Cano García & Jordá Borrell 2003, p. 49.
  25. ^ "Huelva: Stations".
  26. ^ "Guía resumida del clima en España (1981–2010)". Archived from the original on 26 May 2013.
  27. ^ The Daily Dish, by Andrew Sullivan, retrieved on 20 August 2012
  28. ^ "Geminações de Cidades e Vilas". Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses (in Portuguese). Retrieved 20 July 2013.


External links[edit]

This article is in the world's first Encyclopedia Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder [77–79 AD]:
see → NH Book 3.7.