Huelva Province - Minas de Riotinto

Homage to the Rio Tinto miners
Homage to the Rio Tinto miners

Minas de RioTinto (Town)

by Saskia Mier, Chris Chaplow and Fiona Flores Watson

Minas de Riotinto is one of the most important towns of the province of Huelva. Situated south of Aracena in the comarca (area) Minas de Rio Tinto, it has around 4,000 inhabitants.

For many years the town has been dependent on the mines from which it derives its name. Minas de Riotinto reached its peak of prosperity and importance in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the mines were in full production and the population was 200,000. The town itself was built on rolling hills, now covered by pine and eucalyptus trees planted by the British for use in the mines. 

Minas de Riotinto has a golf course called Corta Atalaya Golf. named after the vast open-pit mine nearby. One of the first golf courses to be built in Spain, its purpose was to keep the British mining engineers content and occupied in their leisure time.

HISTORY

The original town was a mere cluster of mining shacks (see history of the Rio Tinto Mine) and was part of the municipal district of Zamela la Real. There were always disputes over authority for the mining village between the mining company and the Zamela la Real town hall. In 1841 Minas de Rio Tinto became a municipality. 

In 1873, the British arrived, having won a concession to exploited the mines which were previously run by the state. Everything changed, industrially, economically and demographically. By 1891, several new barrios had been built: Alto de la MesaBella Vista (the English quarter), El Valle and La Atalaya.

New mining techniques allowed for the ore to be obtained directlyusing the open-mine method, The original Andalusian "pueblo" with its traditional houses and Baroque church, known as La Mina, disappeared as the mine expanded and little by little engulfed the village which had to be relocated to its present location a few km away. 

THINGS TO SEE IN THE VILLAGE

Museo Minero
The mining museum housed the hospital of the Rio Tinto Company Limited between 1873-1954 and was designed by British architect R.H. Morgan in 1925. The museum shows the mining culture and way of life in Rio Tinto at the time of high exploitation. Located on Plaza Ernest Lluch. More about Rio Tinto Mining Park

Iglesia Santa Bárbara 
In the mid-17th century, Francisco Tomás Sanz ordered Manuel Aguirre to build the church south of Cerro Salomón mine for almost 900 worshipers until its demolition due to the advance of CortaFilón Sur. In April 1917 the new church was built in El Valle and the image of Santísimo was moved from the Ermita de Santa Bárbara in the neighbourhood of Mesa de los Pinos. The image had been kept in the Ermita after the demolition of the previous church. Santa Bárbara is the patroness of miners. Located on Calle Maximiliano Tornets.

Rio Tinto Mining Company's former headquarters
An elegant Edwardian building above the village square - you can still see the small windows where the miners' wives collected their husbands' wages. This now houses the local town hall.

Edificio Dirección
The building was constructed between 1935-1938 to hold offices for the Rio Tinto Company Limited. Located in the entrance to El Valle.

Ermita de Santa Bárbara
In 1885, the Ermita de Santa Bárbara was built in the neighbourhood of Mesa de los Pinos. Not only used for worship but housed the important religious images that were kept in the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara before its demolition. Located on Calle Méndez Núñez.

Ermita de San Roque
Sanz, director of the mines, built 30 houses for managers and workers so they could be near to work. He also built a market, the private Ermita de San Roque (chapel), the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara, as well as roads, bridges and factories. These buildings have experienced changes in location due to the demolition of the old village of La Mina. Located in Plaza de España.

Iglesia de San Antonio
The church was founded in 1917 by the British company of Rio Tinto at that time. A contractor from Huelva gave the church a gift of a Saint being San Antonio de Padua, later to become the patron saint of the town. For many years, church services were not celebrated until more Saints were given to the church, including the Virgin Mary.

Old railway stations 
The old railway station buildings (PaseoCaso) from the original railway that used to transport the ores  are now a youth hostel, sports club and flamenco club, and the guest house is now an old people's day care centre. 

THINGS TO SEE IN THE BELLA VISTA DISTRICT

Casa 21 de Bella Vista
House number 21 in Bella Vista has been converted into a museum showing the way of life in Victorian society during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.Located in Barriada Bella Vista.

Opening Times:
2 Jan-15 July, Monday-Sunday and Holidays, 16:00-18:30
16 July-15 Sep, Monday-Sunday and Holidays, 16:00-19:30
16 Sep-31 Dec, Monday-Sunday and Holidays, 16:00-18:30

Prices: From 5 euros/adult, 4 euros/junior, 4 euros/senior, depending on package.

Packages:
Mining Musem and Casa 21.
Mining Musem, Casa 21 and Railway.
MiningMusem, Casa 21 and Peña de Hierro.
Mining Musem, Casa 21, Peña de Hierro and Railway.

Tel: 959 59 00 25 or 959 59 14 97.

Tickets must be purchased in the Museo Minero.

Club Ingles de Bella Vista
Founded in 1878 in the old village of Minas de Rio Tinto as "Rio Tinto English Club", for the leisure of its British community, and was used as a religious temple until the Presbyterian Church was built. Located in Bella Vista.

Casa del Consejo
The Consejo de Administracion (council) decided to build a house to hold future mining projects. Prebble (general manager at the time) decided to not live in the village and built his house two miles away. It was used to hold meetings with Spanish mining companies. Located in Bella Vista.

Residencia de Huéspedes
La Casa de Huéspedes (guest house) was designed by Alan Brace in 1927 and in 1928, the council ordered the construction to be done by Mr. R. H. Morgan, which began in July 1929 and finished in 1931. It was used to accommodate staff that frequently came over from London offices. Located in Bella Vista.

Capilla Presbiteriana de Bella Vista
The Bella Vista church was built in 1881. It was considered the religious centre for Presbyterian acts, and once the council ordered its construction, it was the Scottish Presbyterian Church. Located in Bella Vista.

 

OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE


Corta Atalaya
The most distinct feature of the El Andévalo. The immense open-cast crater measures 1200m in diameter and 345m in depth. Today it is inactive but once held 12,000 workers. Located west of Minas de Rio Tinto.

 

El Cerro Colorado
A more recent open mine, used today, its shape constantly altars due to the use of modern machinery and activity. Located north of Minas de Rio Tinto, off the A-461.

Peña de Hiero
Mine that can be viewed.  See Nerva page

THINGS TO DO

Mine Railway
The present train ride covers a restored 12km section of track. It is an excellent way to view the lunar-type landscape or the mine working. The trip descents the River Tinto river valley and lasts about two hours, including a 20-minute turn round stop to stretch your legs, cross the bridge and get close to the river itself (though not too close, the water is highly acidic and corrosive). It's a real treat for younger train enthusiasts, and a fun experience for all ages.

CAFE / RESTAURANTS

There are a number of restaurants in the village. There is also a cafe inside  the Mining Museum. Just opposite the entrance to the mining museum is RestauranteGalán (Av de la Esquila, 7) and Restaurante La Fábrica (Calle de José Nogales, 11) with terraces. Both are super convenient for breakfast if you arrive early, or a quick lunch if you have a train to catch. In thevillagethereisalsoHostal-Restaurante Atalaya (Avenida de la Esquila, 13,) and  Restaurante Época (Paseo de los Caracoles, 6,)  

HOTELS AND GUESTHOUSE

In the village itself there is one basic comfortable hostal, Hostal-RestauranteAtalaya.

In Bella Vista (the Barrio Inglés), there is a B&B called Victoria House and also a house with rooms to rent called Old English House

COUNTRYSIDE WALKS

Vía Verde de Rio Tinto
The Via Verde (Greenway) of Minas de Rio Tinto is 6km long, following the old railway tracks and offering views of the great mining landscapes and the Zalamea la Real Reservoir. The route starts at the old train station of Minas de Rio Tinto, passing Vista Alegre, Bella Vista, the golf club, and the fruit orchards of the Riotinto Fruit Company until reaching El Campillo. It continues onto Zalamea la Real, passing stretches of pine trees and eucalyptus, until ending in the old station of Zalamea la Real. More>

GASTRONOMY

Dishes specific to Minas de Rio Tinto include chocos con habas (squid and broad beans) and cachelo con bacalao (cod and potatoes). Sweets include gañotes (sweet aniseed pastry) and poleá (semolina).

HANDICRAFTS

Minas de Rio Tinto produces beautiful ceramic pieces, stone clocks and embroidery. It also has a great honey production.

FESTIVALS

Reyes Magos
Celebrated the evening of the 5 January. The procession of the 3 Kings bearing gifts to children dates back to 1939.

Holy Week
Processions through the street and church services take place all week.

Gazpacho de Asociaciones
Celebrated on the last weekend in May. All the cultural associations come together to display and share musical and dance acts. 

Fiestas Patronales en Honor de San Roque
Celebrated 15 August with sport events, dances and processions.

Festividad de la Virgen del Rosario
A presentation of the traditional "Esquila" (a musical group that play for 9 days through the streets of the town) is held in the Parroquia de Santa Barbara at the end of September to welcome in the festival. The celebration of the patroness of Minas de Rio Tinto continues until 7 October.

LOCATION

Minas de Rio Tinto is situated 72km from Huelva. To get there, first take the H-31, and exit to Trigueros on the N-435. Continue, passing Trigueros and Valverde del Camino. Take the A-476 east passing El Campillo and reaching Minas de Rio Tinto. 

Hover the cursor over Minas de Rio Tinto to see bigger map and click to go to the maps page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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