The City of Huelva is proud of its historical links with Christopher Columbus, and there are several attractions in the area revealing that pride. La Rabida, Palos de la Frontera, and Moguer are three important places in the story of Columbus. Lying on the eastern banks of the Tinto River estuary, are close to the Port of Huelva, and most of them offer accommodations for overnight stays.
La Rabida Monastery, just seven kilometers from the port, is a 15th Century Franciscan monastery where Columbus lived after the Portuguese king rejected his proposal for a voyage to find the Indies. Constructed in 1412, La Rabida has a Gothic church that contains the grave of Martin Alonso Pinzon, captain of one of Columbus’ ships. Although the monastery was seriously damaged by a 1755 earthquake, it was restored and re-opened as a national monument in the mid-1800s.
Monks returned to the monastery in the early 20th Century and continue to live there. The grounds contain beautiful botanical gardens and a museum telling the story of Columbus’ life and the discovery of the “New World.” Murals depicting his life were painted by Daniel Vasquez Dias in the 1930s. In the chapel, there is an alabaster statue of the Virgin of the Miracles to which Columbus and his crew may have prayed. The Banderas room holds flags from Latin American countries and caskets of soil from each of the countries. Franciscan monks guide tours in Spanish through La Rabida, although audio guides in other languages are available.
Moguer was an important base for sea-going voyages in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Just 10 kilometers northeast of the Port of Huelva, Moguer contains the Convento de Santa Clara where Columbus swore his allegiance to the Spanish king before his first voyage in 1492. The town also contains many historic buildings of the era. Nearby is the Harbor of the Caravels with life-size replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and a museum detailing the life of the explorer.
Palos de la Frontera is the village from which Columbus set sail in 1492. The main square contains a statue to the builder of his ships and a plaque honoring the sailors, most of whom lived in the village at the time. Today, visitors come to see the embarkation point and the well from which fresh water was drawn for the long voyage.
Visitors to the Port of Huelva will find many other historic buildings from the 15th and 16th Centuries, beautiful parks and gardens, and museums that exhibit relics from the ancient and modern past.