by Saskia Mier
Located in the central part of Huelva province, Calañas has around 4000 inhabitants.
The mineral wealth of Calañas attracted civilizations such as the Phoenicians and the Romans, who came in search of copper, gold and silver, fundamental for their economy. Discoveries of amphorae, tombstones and coins suggest the existence of the Roman village "El Morante".
Under Moorish rule, Calañas came under the jurisdiction of the Cora de Niebla, continuing until after the Christian conquest from the second half of the 13th century. Soon after, this area was granted to Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, Count of Niebla and Duke of Medina Sidonia as a gift from King Enrique II.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the aristocracy's power was reinforced by raised taxes, rent from livestock grazing on pasture and the distribution of fallow and common land. At that time, the main activity was farming sheep, goats and pigs
In the modern age many members of the nobility was no longer in Calañas. This period produced monuments such as the Iglesia Santa María de Gracia, Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Coronada, built in the 16th century on the ruins of an ancient Roman necropolis, and Ermita de Nuestra Señora de España, from to the Visigoth period - some claim that King Pedro is buried here.
In the 19th century, mining operations were re-activated with different open mines and the town's rich copper and sulphur production steadily increased after the creation of the rail road.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial Santa María de Gracia
One of a number of late Gothic era churches in Huelva province, this features pointed arches and vaults, and was finished in the 16th and 17th centuries.According to one theory, it was originally a Visigothic temple - you can see a capital from this era - which was then built over by the Moors as a mosque, and afterwards became the current Christian building.
Possibly built by Cordoban Hernán Ruiz "El Mozo", also called "El Joven", who was appointed Master Builder to the Archbishop of Seville in 1562, and he was assigned the churches of Aracena, Aroche, Encinasola, Cumbres Mayores, El Cerro de Andévalo, Calañas, Utrera, Santa Maria de Arcos, Moron, Espera, San Salvador, San Miguel and San Juan de Jerez. Located in Plaza de España.
Plaza de Abastos
Built in 1927, this was refurbished in 1960, its wooden stalls replaced by brick and white tiles. Located on Calle Murillo.
Casa de la Cultura
The "culture house", built between the 18th and 19th centuries, has been used as a school, an academy and today,after several internal changes, is now a multi purpose building, with auditorium and AV equipment, library, local radio station, and seniors' day centre. Located on Calle Quemada.
Ayuntamiento de Calañas
The town hall was built in 1838 by Don Juan and José Serrano. Located in Plaza de España.
Convento de San José
This was built in the 17th century with an adjoining church was in 1763, fitted out by the Carmelites, later used as an old people's home. Currently, the chapel can be visited. Located on Calle Manifique.
Plaza de Nuestra Señora de Coronada
The square was a playground for children the 1960s and was restored in 1974. The artificial stone image of the Virgin was created by Sebastián Santos Rojas in 1937; the plaza was recently remodelled once again. Located on Plaza Mercado.
Pilar y Banco de Herrar (Fragua)
The Pilar is a 19th-century fountain for livestock to drink from. The Fragua, is next to the Pilar, was originally used by the blacksmith to shoe horses, and you can still see some of the utensils that were used. Located on Calle Jacinto Benavente.
Molino de Viento
The molino (windmill) was recently built, based on the windmill that formerly existed here. Located at the end of Calle Molino de Viento.
Also known as Fuente Bermeja, this fountain dates from the 18th century and was one of the sources supplying water to inhabitants before the current reservoir was built. Its water is still drinkable, although not treated. Located at the exit of the village on the A-485.
This fountain also dates from the 18th century. Located near the village in the direction of reservoir and easily reached by car.
Calañas offers a variety of local dishes, typically cachuelas (pig's liverstew). When gurumelos (wild mushrooms) are in season, dishes such as hashes, stews and tortillas are also made. As for sweet dishes, Calañas offers its famous antler-shaped biscuits,esesitas, made with aniseed only in spring.
Calañas is famous for one particular handicraft, el sombrero calañés, named after the town. This hat has a crown and brim design, with various models designed for different eras and purposes. Its typical shape with an upturned brim and low, pointed crown was used in the 18th century by peasants and townspeople.Another embodiment of el sombrero calañés, similar to acatite (named after a conically-shaped hat) that was used during holidays or for walking, differs slightly with a higher pointed crown, traditionally made from beaver skin.
Other handicrafts include baskets, bags and botijillas verdes, intricately-designed green jugs which were originally used to hold water on pilgrimages and carried by donkeys. Now they are purely decorative.
A variety of processions and events take place throughout the week of Semana Santa, including Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Romeria de Nuestra Señora de la Coronada
The pilgrimage starts on Palm Sunday, and on Holy Monday, the villagers travel to Sotiel Coronada to take the patroness back to Calañas. The following Sunday, Domingo de Resurreccion, a procession takes place through the streets.
Feria y Fiestas de Agosto
The local festivities takes place in August and have many music and cultural events.
Calañas is situated 60 kms from Huelva and can be reached by taking exit 75 off the A-49 towards Trigueros. Then continue along the N-435, and once passing the Trigueros crossing, join onto the A-496.