by Saskia Mier
El Campillo is situated very near Minas de Rio Tinto and covers an area of 91km², at an altitude of 434m above sea level. It sits in the centre of the Comarca de la Cuenca Minera de Riotinto (the Mining Basin of RioTinto) and has around 2300 inhabitants.
Archaeological evidence shows El Campillo has been occupied for five millennia - from the Megalithic era, through the Bronze Age, Roman, Moorish and Christian times up to the current times. only 3kms west
After Fernando III 'El Santo' and his troops defeated the Moors in 1251, El Campillo was dependant on Zalamea la Real over many centuries, until 1931. The late 19th century attracted many workers to the area, with the beginning of large-scale exploitation of the Rio Tinto mines by the British.
The mining industry continued in El Campillo until the mid-1980s, when the collapse of the copper line led to closure. The town then re-invented itself by cultivating citrus trees.
THINGS TO SEE
Moorish fortified settlement located at the top of the Sierra de Mónago, near the mining concession of La Mimbrera. The settlement walls are two metres thick.
Fortín El Castillejos
The remains of a Roman fort where amphora fragments have been found, located next to the A-461, between El Campillo and Minas de Río Tinto.
Asentamiento and Escorial de Montesorromero
This is a hispano-Roman mining town near the town of Montesorromero.
Represas de Gossan y Cobre
These reservoirs were built for equipment for the facilities for preparing and concentrating copper from the open-pit mine of Cerro Colorado. The reservoirs are located on either side of the A-461, exit Minas de Rio Tinto towards Campofrio.
A complex transport system was built by British engineers in the late 19th century to tackle a steep 900m-slope on the railway line between Mina La Concepcion-La Poderosa and Zalamea la Real.
The system consisted of a steam engine (La Fija), two parallel tracks and traction cable. Trains loaded with ore would climb up one track, fixed onto the cable attached to La Fija, which in turn was attached to a train descending on the other track, creating a counterweight system.
A double-pillared bridge was also built over the Tintillo stream; a pedestrian walkway now sits over the bridge's original columns.
La Fija is still a spectacular sight for visitors today. Although the building that housed the steam engine itself is almost completely destroyed, the railway route has been preserved, and is now part of a via verde (hiking and cycle path) steep - the 900m tree-lined slope is all steps, with much-needed resting points.
To get to La Fija, take the N5-435 towards Traslasierra. Just under 2 kms after the village, turn right onto a 1 km-track leading to La Fija. If arriving by car, park near the collapsed building that housed the steam engine, and walk from there. It is not advisable to take the vehicle closer due to potential landslides around the steep slope.
A hiking trail from El Campillo to La Poderosa passes La Fija.
Small Roman sulphur mine located next to the N-435 road, northwest of El Campillo.
Dolmen de la Cantina
A dome-shaped Chalcolithic collective burial, enclosed and covered, located at the bottom of Sierra del Mónago, northwest of El Campillo.
Moorish necropolis with a rectangular tomb. Located northwest of El Campillo, 100m east of the N-435.
Castillo de Mónago
Fortress of Moorish origin with a rectangular formation about 180 square meters, with a square tower in one corner. Located in the Sierra de Mónago.
Parque Los Cipreses
A seven-hectare park and resting point, ideal located to stop at after visiting the mines, characterized by the huge number of cypress trees, originally planted by English settlers. The park has marked trails, recreation areas, playgrounds, barbeque area, bar and terrace, as well as three swimming pools. Located east of El Campillo, on the road to Minas de Rio tinto.
There are several countryside walking routes available in the surroundings of El Campillo, such as El Zumajo, Huerto del Cura, Puente Chapa, Mina La Poderosa, Traslasierra and Zalamea la Real. The routes take you to nearby villages as well as historical sites of interest.
The gastronomy of El Campillo is typical of El Andevalo, with dishes such as habas enzapatás (broad beans with garlic and herbs) and tortilla de setas (mushroom omelette) using the local wild gurumelo mushrooms. Other common dishes include pork and lamb stews, and migas con chorizo (breadcrumbs with spicy cold sausage).
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
The most popular festival of the year for El Campillo. On Sunday, a representation of Judas is made using old clothes, sawdust and straw, which is later burned to eliminate negative energy from the village.
Romería de la Santa Cruz
The pilgrimage is held on the first Sunday of May, with different acts and ceremonies throughout the weekend.
Pirulitos de San Juan
Celebrated on Dia de San Juan, 23 June, a pine tree is decorated, placed in the town and worshipped with traditional songs and dances.
Fiestas de Julio
Celebrated around the date of Santiago, in July, with music and food.
Día de la Villa
On 22 August, El Campillo celebrates its independence from Zalamea la Real, which took place in 1931.
Día de Nuestra Señora de la Granada
El Campillo is situated 66kms from Huelva and is reached via the Quinto Centenario (H-31) and the A-49, turn off onto N-435, through Valverde del Camino and right turn onto the A-461 to El Campillo.