Zalamea la Real
by Saskia Mier
Zalamea la Real is situated in El Andevalo and sits very east on the border of the province of Huelva. Legend has it that it was founded by those coming from the East such as Salomea, daughter of King Solomon. The word in Arabic means peaceful and healthy and the Christians later hispanicised to form its current name. It has 3,232 inhabitants.
Many legends referring to the founding of Zalamea la Real have been suggested, the most popular being King Solomon, in the first millennium BC, who named it in honour of his daughter "Salomea" who bathed in the Fuente del Fresno.
There are signs of population back the Chalcolithic period, as the archaeological site of "El Pozuelo" beholds megalithic funerary monuments, dating from 2800 and 3000 B.C.
During the Roman era, the town was called "Callenses Aenanicci", meaning place on the copper trail,due to its proximity to the Rio Tinto mines. During Moorish ruling it was called "Salamun" or "Salameh", meaning healthy place.
Reconquered during the thirteenth century of Fernando III el Santo, Zalamea la Real was invaded by Moors repeatedly until Alfonso X el Sabio won it back and donated it to the Archbishop of Seville.
In the sixteenth century, Rey Felipe II granted a Charter of Privileges, and renamed the village Zalamea la Real, converting it into a rich agricultural region producing crops, livestock, leather, wax and linen.
During the nineteenth century, confrontations regarding the fumes emitted from the Rio Tinto mines culminated in an uprising of farmers and miners, who went on strike. A demonstration in the town square was forcably disperced by the army, resulting in hundreds of dead and wounded.
In the twentieth century it had a population boom due mainly to the rise of agriculture and livestock, as well as the work at the Rio Tinto mines.
THINGS TO SEE
Dólmenes de El Pozuelo
These archaeological sites can be dated to 2200-2500 A.C according to the test of Carbon 14. Considered to be the most clear and documented example of megalithic constructions in the province of Huelva, it was discovered and excavated mostly in 1946. The site consists of five units, with specific boundaries: Los Llanetes, where four dolmens are located; La Veguilla, with three funerary constructions; El Riscal, with two, and Los Rubios y Martin Gil, with a tomb each.Locatedsouth-east of El Pozuelo.
Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, del siglo XVII
The church was constructed in early the sixteenth century by Hernán Ruiz II and modifications were made in 1606 by Vermondo Resta. In 1631 the church was completed, however repairs were made in the late seventeenth century. Located on Calle la Iglesia.
Ermitas de San Vicente Mátir
The oldest chapel of Zalamea la Real, built in the early fifteenth century. The Moorish building with transverse arches, characteristic of the Sierra de Huelva, suffered numerous restorations in the eighteenth century, and more recently in 1929 and 1972.Located in Barriada San Vicente.
Ermita San Blas
The chapel dates back to the late fifteenth century and was originally dedicated to Santa María Urena. In the nineteenth century, the chapel is mentioned as Ermita San Blas and describes in the day an orchard and two numbered lands coasting a religious function and an oil lamp burning on the altar all year. Located east of Zalamea la Real, on the Via Verde.
Ermita Santo Sepulcro
On October 6, 1776, Gabriel Alejandro Sanz issued a request to the council, demanding a greater extension of land to build a chapel in it to be called the Ermita Santo Sepulcro. Work started on 4 July 1776. Located on Calle Tejada.
Plaza de Toros
The bullring was constructed during the late nineteenth century and is one of the most important bullrings in the region, located in an architectural environment of great beauty.
A magnificent olive tree over three thousand years old, measuring over 6m in perimeter and 12m in height.It can be found near the village of Marigenta, 9km from Berrocal, through a eucalyptus grove with a wire fence and taking a left lane.
Popular dishes of Zalamea la Real include migas, potaje de gurumelos and specifically Iberican pork in the form of chorizo, morcilla, lomo etc. However, sweet treats are most known in the village including roscos, buñelos, torrijas and rosas del Buitrón.
Local handicrafts include saddlery, pottery, woodwork and ironwork. Lace embroidery is also of high quality.
Celebrated the weekend before 22 January.
A very popular tradition in Zalamea la Real. Many processions are taken through the streets of the village dating back to the fifteenth century.
Romeria de San Blas
The pilgrimage has a slightly more modern origin dating back to the eighteenth century. Celebrated in February.
The Romerito, celebrated the second weekend of May,is traditionally a small version of the Romeria, almost more popular.
Verbena de San Juan
Celebrated 25 July with music and cultural events.
The annual fair is celebrated the first weekend of September.
Dia de las Candelas
Celebrated 7 December, this evening consists of making small bonfires in the streets and creating a purifying light, which has managed to endure time reflecting the legacy that has been known to transmit generation after generation.
Zalamea la Real is situated 60km from Huelva. To get there,take the H-31 leaving Huelva. Take Exit 75, towards Trigueros on the N-435. Passing Trigueros, Beas and Valverde del Camino, you will reach Zalamea la Real.