At the mouth of the River Odiel stands Huelva, an Andalusian city with an ancient mining tradition and witness to historical events as important events as important as the discovery of America.
More than 2,500 years ago, Huelva - the most westerly Andalusian capital - was the centre of the Tartessan civilisation and an important commercial enclave which maintained intensive trade with other ports in the eastern Mediterranean. Centuries later it became a base for Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans, although it was the latter who began to exploit the area's enormous mineral resources, an activity which has continued throughout the centuries. With the Roman presence in the area, the city, known as Onuba Aesturia and set in the region of Beturia, took on great importance and even minted its own coins.
One of the most important religious buildings in Huelva is the Cathedral of La Merced (18th C.). The cathedral began as the church of the Convent of La Merced, founded by the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1605. The Cathedral, which has a three-nave plan, was restored in the 18th century. A group of chapels and Baroque reredoses are hidden behind its splendid façade. It also houses the Pantheon of the Counts of Niebla. Meanwhile, the convent, which lost its original function after Mendizábal's church land sales in the 19th century, had various civil uses until the present day, when it is a university.