Lepe is a small agricultural market town, that until the late seventies its economy was based on fishing, but is now one of the wealthiest villages in the region thanks to its intensive farming of strawberries, which are exported all over Europe. It is also famous for being the subject of innumerable Spanish 'Irishman' jokes. It has about 27, 000 inhabitants.
Leperos are proud also of the fact that their wines, which were exported to England in the Middle Ages, were mentioned in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
Its origin dates to the early Middle Ages with Lithic and Roman settlements located on the coast from La Antilla to the confluence with Río Piedras.
During the Arab ruling, Lepe became the centre of the coastal area where Río Guadiana joins Río Piedras depending administratively on the Taifa de Niebla until the Arabs were expelled, and territory passed to the Orden del Templo.
After the Orden del Templo dissolved in 1312, Lepe and Ayamonte were brought by Doña María Coronel, in the time of Fernando V.
After a long period of family disputes, Lepe, Ayamonte and La Redondela were given by Don Juan Alonso de Guzmán, Duke of Medina Sidonia, to his daughter Doña Teresa de Guzmán.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, jurisdictional lordships were abolished and Lepe became a rural village living off land and sea. During early last century, modern economic projects start a new economic, tourist and business path, a pioneer on agriculture production systems, crops and irrigation.
Several of Lepe's former inhabitants played an important part in Christopher Columbus's discovery of the Americas. The sailor, Rodrigo de Triana, was the first to sight the coast of the Americas, while Juan Díaz de Solís discovered Río de la Plata. The preparations by de Solís for the journey took place in nearby El Terrón.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
The church's construction dates back to early sixteenth century and founded by Doña Teresa de Guzmán, Duquesa de Béjar. It houses the Lepe's patron saint, the Virgen de la Bella (Virgin of Beauty). Located in Plaza de España.
Capilla San Cristóbal
The Mudejar style chapel dates to early sixteenth century. Located on Calle San Cristóbal.
Capilla de las Monjas
The chapel was designed by Aurelio Madrigal and project managed by María José García. Located on Calle Las Monjas.
Museo Casa Hermandad de Nuestra Señora de La Bella
The museum displays the artistic heritage of the Brotherhood. Documents and historical pieces have been recovered that were distributed through various local homes. Located on Calle Iglesia.
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30-13:30hrs (Guided Tours)
Price: Free Entrance
Tel: 959 383 605
A clear example of Moorish architecture from the second half of the fourteenth century to the sixteenth century. It is a window divided by a mullion on which two basket-handle arches are seated and framed by tiles, located on the front of what was "Casa Grande". Located on Calle Oria Castañeda.
Teatro Alcalde Juan Manuel Santana
The modern theatre was built for cultural use in the town. Located on Avenida Arboleda.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Torre El Catalán
The tower dates to the sixteenth century and was ordered by Felipe II to warn of an impending invasion by Berber pirates. You can climb the tower for great views of a nature area, the Paraje Natural Marismas del Río Piedras y la Flecha de El Rompido. Located on Pista del Catalán, south of Lepe.
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Bella
A fourteenth century hermitage dedicated to the Virgin. On the second Saturday in May there is a pilgrimage from Lepe to the hermitage, where the figure of the Virgen de la Bella is carried from the Iglesia de Santo Domingo to the Ermita. Located south of Lepe, on Camino de la Bella.
Puerto de El Terrón
The very small fishing port of El Terrón is at the mouth of Río Piedras with the island of Cabecera de la Niña directly opposite. It has a few restaurants to choose from serving freshly caught fish. The 'Aula Marina de El Terron' ( El Terron Marine Centre) closed in 2008 due to lack of funds and the building remains abandoned in the port.
One of the most significant local nature area is Parque Natural Marismas del Río Piedras y Flecha de El Rompido. It is where nature becomes art, where the ocean merges with Río Piedras giving life to the port of El Terrón, and covers 2,530 hectares. Other natural areas worth seeing for the rich diversity of flora and fauna are Pinares Costeros and Dehesa El Alcornocal.
The closest beaches to Lepe include La Antilla, Nueva Umbría and Islantilla. More>
As a coastal town, Lepe offers a great quality of freshly caught fish including sardines, mackerel, dab, anchovies, gilthead bream, young hake, sea bass and shellfish, all from the port of El Terrón. Specific dishes worth trying are ensalada de alubias or "frijones caretos" (bean salad), arroz con habas y "chícharos" (rice with beans and peas), encebollado de pescado (fish with onions), chocos con habas (cuttlefish with beans), raya en pimentón (devil-fish in paprika), "papas aliñás" (marinated potatoes) and sardinas en sopa de tomate (sardines in tomato soup). Lately, fruits such as strawberries and oranges, including tropical fruits have become particular to Lepe.
Celebrated in Febuary.
Feria de la Tapa
A gastronomic festival held for four days in April.
Romeria de la Bella
The pilgrimage is celebrated the second weekend of May.
A mini version of the previous pilgrimage, this however celebrated the third weekend of May.
Fiesta de San Juan
Celebrated in June.
Festival de Cine y Television de Islantilla
A film festival celebrated on the beach itself during the month of June.
Festividad de la Virgen del Carmen
Celebrated in July.
Fiesta de Santa Ana
A cultural festival celebrated in July.
Fiestas Virgen de la Bella y San Roque
Celebrated on the 14, 15 and 16 August in honour of the patroness.
An agricultural fair celebrated in September.
Lepe is located 31km from Huelva. To get there, take the A-497 west leaving Huelva and onto the A-492. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto the N-431 and continue, passing Cartaya until you reach Lepe.