Cortegana – Sierra de Aracena & Picos de Aroche Natural Park
Cortegana is situated in the heart of the mountains, belongs to the Natural Park Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche, one of the most important protected areas of the Community. It occupies the entire north of the province with its meadows and slopes covered predominantly by forests of oaks, cork oaks, chestnut trees and numerous streams that course through the undergrowth to form a landscape of extraordinary beauty. The area also belongs to part of the Paraje Natural de Las Peñas de Aroche and Serra Pelada and Ribera del Sawyer.
The presence of water is such that in the village we find the origin of one of the most important rivers in the province of Huelva, El Chanza.
The city centre has all the characteristics of popular architecture of the area and is beautiful as a whole. The highlights are the castle and the Church of the Divine Saviour (both declared of cultural interest.)
However, the origins of the area and its population go back to Neolithic times evidenced by the many small tools were found here and have been important for determining the demographics of the area. In the Chacolithic age, around 2,500 BC, there were numerous villages in this land; Corteganilla-Hallemans, with its numerous cystic burial grounds; Alto de Caba at the south-western end; the site at Cerro del Cojo had a smelting works from the 17century. More sites are Santa Barbara to the southwest of the epicentre and Papatortas Mountains, which are north of the town.
Under Islam, Cortegana was head of one of the areas of Seville. Disputed by Spaniards and Portuguese during the conflict known as the Algarve, it was finally kept in the hands of Castile by the Treaty of Badajoz (1267). During the late Middle Ages, Cortegana based its economy on the vine and the land use of the pastoral meadows and forests, managed communally with Aroche, because there was still no municipal division. This caused some conflicts, which continued in subsequent centuries. Like neighbouring municipalities, the Cabildo of Cortegana regulated these activities in 1532 through its Forestry Ordinances, confirmed by the Council of Seville, and compiled and adapted by 1589. They aimed at the care and conservation of resources provided by meadows, forests and fields especially when so-called neighbours were active in seizing the lands of the town.
In the seventeenth century, clashes with Portugal, which ended with the independence of the kingdom, required continuing the accommodation of troops in Cortegana, as the castle was located in the second line of defence against the neighbouring country.
In the eighteenth century, the great men of Cortegana were associated with religious or charitable activities in Mexico: men such as Fray Alonso Giraldo de Terreros and Don Pedro Romero de Terreros, who had exploited in the mines of Mount Cortegana, and became some of the wealthiest men of Spain active in overseas trade. Don Juan Vazquez de Terreros donated an important legacy of money to the parish church. Some were engaged in mining activities (especially in Mexican mines of Pachuca) or steel making and others in the issuance of currency, like Don Pedro Barbabosa Parreno, chief accountant of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
The mid-nineteenth century revived the lawsuit with Almonaster, initiated in the late fifteenth century on communally managed lands. The pastures in Valdelamusa, which belonged to Cortegana, Almonaster and El Cerro del Andévalo were divided among the three in 1841. In 1898, after various vicissitudes in the courts, Almonaster claimed that all the land, one third of Dehesa Valdelamusa, population and the mine were to go to Cortegana Confessionals, and the lands of the contest, including five villages were under the Almonaster jurisdiction until the division of the two municipalities in 1931.
Reseña Madoz in the second half of the nineteenth century, was important in industrial and handicraft activities, employing large amounts of manpower leading to extensive trade relations with the outside areas: having cork, pottery, hardware and manufacturing, three workshops, 10 flour mills and two oil pressing plants and more than 100 weaving flax and wool. Also by this time, mining activity was intensifying noting the holdings of Valdelamusa, San Telmo and Confessional.
Today an important base of its economy is the meat industry. Cork is maintained as a token gesture and an important agricultural sector, while mining operations were abandoned in the 80s and early 90s.
A century with the settlement of Portuguese and Catalan industrialists represented an industrial revolution. At the beginning of the century, the industry grew to 600 workers and created two new classes – traders and owners, then the workers who had a higher status than the traditional peasantry. Now with the emphasis on the creation of companies and casinos industry is a merely a shadow of its past –only six companies survive in the towns.
Before the town was controlled in much of the production process, it resulted in trades such as saws, splitter, corkscrews, stacked woods, guards of cork cells and carriers. The decline in these activities has led to the production of cork stoppers, which generates higher value-added export to Catalonia, France, Portugal and Italy, among other places.
Parish Church of the Divine Saviour, (Divino Salvador ) 16th century. Declared a National Monument. It contains an altarpiece by Diaz de Palacio and Fernandez de Moro.
Hermitage of Our Lady of Mercy (Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Piedad) 16th and 18th centuries.
Church of San Sebastian. Gothic Mudéjar style.
Houses, sixteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Casinos Society, nineteenth century.
Museo Municipal, in the castle.
Chanza Fountains & Laundries
Corteganesa gastronomy, as in any mountain village, is based on the Iberian pork products. Visit the mountains to enjoy your food.
Cortegana has several restaurants and bars that use local recipes so you can taste the typical mountain dishes. In autumn dishes are often based on mushrooms.
By road: Go via national highway N-433 Seville-Lisbon crossing the Sierra de Huelva from east to west, or N-435 (which connects Badajoz with Huelva) taking the turnoff to Almonaster, this road offers great views if you are not in a hurry, since it is a secondary road.
By train: You can also get there by train by the Zafra-Huelva rail line, nearest station Almonaster or El Repilado.
By Air: The proximity of the airports of Seville (Spain) and Faro (Portugal) makes access to Cartaya viable from any European city. In about an hour from either airport, you can reach the town.
Distances from Cortegana
To Huelva 117 km
To Aracena 28 km
To Galaroza 13 km
To Jabugo 12 km
To Almonaster la Real 8 km
To Cumbres Mayores 36 km
To Aroche 15 km
To Seville 114 km