The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 is the main reason why there is only a handful of ancient things left in Huelva. This is particularly noticeable in the churches because the city only has five religious buildings of importance from the time before the disaster.
They are La Merced Cathedral, the church of San Pedro, the Hermitage de La Soledad, the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de La Cinta and the church of La Concepcion.
We will start with the Cathedral of La Merced, which was built in 1605. Pretty late if we consider that the usual thing in Andalusia was to build temples as the Reconquest progressed, that is, between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Its date of birth is reflected on the appearance of its façade, which in any case has been modified over with time and the earthquakes. And we say earthquakes, in the plural, because up to three have affected the building throughout its history.
After the worst one of all, the Lisbon one, a good part of the temple was rebuilt, and an opulent baroque construction remained which had to wait until the twentieth century to become a cathedral. In its interior, you can see the famous image of the Virgin de la Cinta carved by Juan Martinez Monañes.
But the fact is that the cathedral is not the oldest church in Huelva. This honour belongs to San Pedro, which was erected over an Arab mosque, and which is pretty clear. Despite the damage caused by the damned earthquake and the works that followed, the Mudejar features are still present in the temple and mixed with the Baroque compose a distinct image.
The Hermitage of La Soledad, on the other hand, not only served for worship. It was also used as a teaching centre, and between its walls, the grammar of the language was taught back in the seventeenth century; it has also served as a hospital, asylum and even a rehearsal venue for a music band.
The Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de La Cinta, dating from the fifteenth century, is another religious building that you can take a look whether you have outbursts of faith or not. This is the place where Christopher Columbus went, as soon as he arrived from his little adventure, to light a candle in gratitude for coming out save from the great storm he had to face on his return trip.
Finally, you can go to Mendez Nuñez Street and see the church of La Concepcion. This one is from the year 1515, and apart from the cataclysm of 1755, it had to suffer several damages in the Civil War. As you can see, this is truly a list of survivors…