Santa Olalla del Cala
Santa Olalla del Cala
Santa Olalla del Cala is a town located in the northeast of the province in the foothills of Sierra Morena, bordering Seville and Badajoz, in the Natural Park of the Sierra de Aracena and los Picos de Aroche, one of the most important protected areas of the community which occupies the entire north of the province with its meadows and small hills covered predominantly with oak forests, cork trees, chestnut trees and scrub, where numerous streams flow, forming a place of extraordinary beauty.
From the remains of the Castle you get a splendid panoramic view of the town and surrounding area, highlights of which are the Church of the Assumption and the cyclopean Bullring.
Located in the foothills of Sierra Morena, in the Sierra de Aracena, at a road crossing on the “Silver Route”, on the border of the Kingdom of Seville with Extremadura; the age of Santa Olalla has not yet been clarified. There is no available date for the foundation of the town, or the establishment of the first settlers.
The strategic position of Santa Olalla in the transit of metals extracted from the important mining enclaves of Almaden de la Plata, Rio Tinto Mines, or “Papua” or “Tratejón” in Zufre makes it easy to imagine the presence of man in this town in the Bronze Age, around the third millennium BC. This trade would provide the basis of the well known “Ruta de la Plata”, or “Silver Route”, which reached its heyday in the Roman era.
In the Iron Age there was a village located in the place where the castle stands today.
In Roman times, the emperors gave vital importance to these roads – as communications link for the movement of goods, troops, and of course to spread their culture. Intensified mining brought increased commercial traffic between Western Andalusia and the North West of the peninsula.
The Muslim presence brought war in the mid-eleventh century , when the king Azz al Dawla requested help from the Berber King Muhanmad of Badajoz to repel the invading troops of Almutamid, Moorish king of Sevilla, who were in Santa Olalla. The King of Badajoz managed to repel the enemy, and conquered Santa Olalla and the whole plain of the River Cala.
The story of Santa Olalla begins in the thirteenth century, after the conquest of Seville by King Fernando III of Castile in 1248. The previous history is unknown due to the unfortunate lack of documentation.
The Christian reconquest of the Sierra took place in mid-thirteenth century at the hands of Sancho II of Portugal, with the support of the military order. The border clashes continued, and so to curb the continuing threat Portuguese, a defensive line known as the Banda Gallega was created, with residents from the north of the peninsula, mainly from León, Asturias and Galicia.
This line is based on the existence of a series of fortifications visually interconnected by signals with torches. And so it was Sancho IV el Bravo, at the request of the authorities in Seville, granted the privilege to several mountain villages to construct forts, which protected them and stopped the constant attacks from the neighbouring country. This brought about the construction of the Castillo de Santa Olalla, together with the Cumbres Mayores, Fregenal de la Sierra and the reconstruction of the Aroche.
The fortified castle, a parish church, and a Jewish synagogue, are all references to the existence of the medieval village of Santa Olalla
Santa Olalla was sold in the late seventeenth century to Don Juan Ventura Tirado, who gained the powers to control tax rates, and thus the right to acquire the income, to appoint local authorities, and also to impart justice in ordinary cases.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, during the French invasion, Santa Olalla was established as Headquarters Area for the Marine Infantry making it the centre for millitary activities in the Sierra. It was at the end of this century when the town of Santa Olalla was established as a town in the province of Huelva.
By 1830 the province of Huelva itself was established, as until then the region had been part of Seville, along with large parts of the province of Cadiz.This and the new spirit of industrialisation gave encouragement in the nineteenth century, bringing a major economic revitalization of the region that would last until the first part of the twentieth century.British companies entered the province, establishing ties to the mining operations that represent Huelvas main link with the rest of the world.
Along with mining and farming, the nineteenth century saw a new industrial opportunity arises for the Sierra, and therefore for Santa Olalla – the production of cork stoppers for wine bottles. This new technological invention was exported to England and France in particular. In Santa Olalla more cork factories emerged, and flourished, giving a strong economic boost to the town.
An important milestone in the advancement of society in Santa Olalla in the twentieth century was the construction of the railway station, one of the largest in the province, of which today only a few parts have been saved from destruction. The railroad was dismantled in the early 50s.
Some of the most significant developments in recent years have been the presentation of the shield and flag in 1995, the appointment of the patron saint Santa Eulalia as favorite daughter of the town in 1999, and the celebration of Nine Days of Heritage of the Sierra in 1994, and the celebration of Heritage Days IX of the Sierra in 1994,
showing the desire of a people to dig into their enigmatic and almost unknown past, that they today try to clarify through electronic media, making it accessible to anyone who wants it anywhere in the world.
Santa Olalla del Cala Monuments
Church of the Assumption.
Built on a Jewish synagogue from the ninth or tenth century, later a mosque. Inside is an image of the Virgen de los Dolores, by Juan de Mesa.
Shrine of Santa Eulalia.
Castle, thirteenth century.
Built after the Christian conquest by privilege of Sancho IV.
Monument to Spanish Sailors
Santa Olalla del Cala Gastronomy
The cuisine is based on typical local produce and pork. Standout are “el caldillo” during the time of “la Matanza”, winter gazpacho with offal and cilantro, and the pepper and tomato salad with grilled sardines.
Pastries include las tortas de manteca, bollas de chicharrones, gañotes and piñonates.
Santa Olalla del Cala Directions
Leave Huelva and head to San Juan del Puerto – Trigueros – Fregenal de la Sierra. On the outskirts of San Juan del Puerto, turn right onto the N-435 heading to Trigueros – Badajoz. Continue along the A-493. Pass through Valverde del Camino. Continue along the Carretera de Zalamea. Continue onto the N-435. Pass near El Pozuelo. On the outskirts of Zalamea la Real, turn right onto the A-461. On the outskirts of Rio-Tinto Granada, take the HV-5011. Turn right onto the A-461 and pass near Zufre. Continue along until you come to Santa Olalla del Cala.
Distances from Santa Olalla del Cala
Zufre 16 km
Aroche 84 km
Sevilla 70 km
Huelva 120 km
Aracena 41 km
Cortegana 69 km
Higuera de la Sierra 29 km