First voyage to the Indians from Huelva

ITINERARY: La Rabida, Palos de la Frontera, Moguer, Lucena de Puerto, Huelva.

A visit to Huelva provides the opportunity to undertake a genuine reconstruction of the preparations for, thr departure and the return of the voyage of discovery. The mouth of the rivers Tinto and Odiel was a large natural harbour which boasted considerable nautical activity. The inhabitants of Palos de la Frontera, Morguer and Huelva were seafaring peoples who would undertake daring voyages of exploration and colonization. Noblemen, merchants, members of religious orders, seamen and soldiers all participated in those adventures: today their castles, monasteries, convents and houses echo this brilliant past.

In Palos de la Frontera, the Monastery of La Rabida (15th-18th C.) is the emblem par excellent of the Andalusian buildings connected with America, since it is here that the discovery was nurtures. This former ribat (Arab defence fortress) was converted into a Franciscan monastery and an active scientific, cosmographic and marine centre, offering hospitality to the pilgrims who, like Columbus, came knocking on its door. It is here that he found his first protectors in Spain, after his failure in the Portuguese court. In the church of San Jorge (15th C.) ,built by the lords of the town in Gothic and Mudejar style, the ships' crews were called together. In the nearby Fontanilla, an example of brick Mudejar architecture, they stocked up on water for the voyage, under the protection of the Castle which dominated the port of Palos. In the town, the Casa de los Pinzon ( The Pinzon's house) is worthy of note as the legendary anscentral home of the sailors who sailed with Columbus on his first voyage.

The monastery of Santa Clara (14th-16th C.) in Moguer, was the object of special devotion by Columbus. Its style and proportions embody a model which would be repeated in colonial American architecture. Its cloisters, the church's alabaster sepulchres, tiles and murals and the museum of Sacred Art are its most outstanding features. The convent of San Francisco (14th-18th century), the remains of the Castle and the houses of the historical quarter of Moguer, such as a mansion of the Admirals Yañez Pinzon, complete the vision of this city so closely related to the first European voysges to America.

In Lucena del Puerto, the Monastery of La Luz (14th-16th C.), is a exemplary synthesyis of the architectural forms representative of the Age of Discovery. In Huelva, the Santuario de la Cinta (15th C.) commemorates the most difficult moments experienced during the voyage by Columbus who, in times of dange, put himself in the hands of the Virgin of Hermitage.

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