Santa Olalla del Cala, Huelva history

The Castle of  Santa Olalla © Michelle Chaplow
The Castle of Santa Olalla de la Cala © Michelle Chaplow

Santa Olalla del Cala History

It's not known when the first settlers appeared in Santa Olalla del Cala. The strategic position of the village facilitated the transit of metals extracted from the mines at Almaden de la Plata, Rio Tinto, as well as El Papua and El The Tratejón in Zufre, so a settlement may have existed in the Bronze Age (third millennium BC). The mining trade provided the basis of the known Ruta de la Plata (Silver Route), which lead from Merida to Astorga.


Originally named Ponciana by the Romans, Santa Olalla's current name comes from the Galician version of the patron saint of the town, Santa Eulalia de Merida. It was later renamed Santa Olalla del Cala in 1920 in honour of the river Cala.

During clashes between the Kingdom of Castille and Portugal in the mid-13th century, a defensive line (Galician Banda) was created by residents in the north - Asturias, Galicia and Leon, mainly from León, against the Portuguese threat. The defensive line was based on a series of forts visually connected by torch signals. Sancho IV el Bravo granted the privilege for many villages to construct forts, to protect them again the continuous attacks of the neighbouring country. The Castillo de Santa Olalla (castle) was built and along with the Iglesia Parroquial (church) and Jewish Synagogue (destroyed in 1381) show the medieval existence of the village.

In the 19th century cork production started, where the bark of the cork oak tree is harvested every nine years. Many factories were built to make cork wine bottle stoppers, bringing new prosperity to the town.

At the end of the 19th century, Santa Olalla was established as a village within the province of Huelva. A north-south line, exempting El Madroño, served as a guide to the limit of the east side of the province.