The Iglesia de la Merced used to serve as the church of the neighbouring convent, the Convento de la Merced, and was designated a cathedral in 1953. It is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Huelva province, with a striking pink exterior and a bright white marble interior. It dominates the Plaza de la Merced, an elegant square lined with tall palm trees.
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The convent built the church in the early 17th century. Despite escaping virtually unscathed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the church suffered serious damage in the subsequent one, in 1765, and had to be almost completely rebuilt. Work began in 1775 under the renowned architect Pedro de Silva, but remained unfinished until the 1940s. The imposing belfries were added in 1915. The church needed major repairs after a third earthquake in 1969 and was declared a national monument in 1970.
Inside the cathedral is a statue of the Virgen de la Cinta, Huelva's patron saint, made by the artist Martínez Montañes in the early 17th century. An elaborate altarpiece of the Virgen de los Dolores dates from the late 18th-century and has wood carving and gilt embellishments. Other notable works of art are an oil painting of San Lorenzo by Francisco de Herrera el Viejo from 1617 and the 17th-century wood-carved pulpit.
The cathedral is open at service times only: Monday to Saturday 1900; Sundays and holidays 1100, 1200 and 1900.