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Aracena

Aracena, situated in the North East of the province of Huelva, sits within the wild countryside of the mountains from which it takes its name. As part of the Sierra de Arcacena and Picos de Aroche National Park and being the largest town in the area, Arcacena has become a first-rate tourist spot.

Aracena is a quiet town with pretty white houses which form a semi circle below the castle and church.

The surrounding area has much still untouched countryside. There are pine trees and cork oaks, but the areas defining feature is the existence of a large chestnut grove. Here you can gather chestnuts to eat later.

The Environmental Council has marked out various routes allowing visitors to see the National Park first hand. These trails link Aracena to other towns like Los Marines, Linares or Corteconcepcion.

Aracena is also famous for its mushrooms. Every year in mid November the Mycology (fungi) Society organise special days with trips out to the countryside to collect mushrooms, study and classify them and then of course taste them.

And speaking of cooking, let’s not forget the famous Iberian hams and pork products such as chacinas (sausages), caña de lomo (pork loin) and morcones (blood sausage).

The castle which presides over Arcacena makes an interesting visit. Constructed in the XIII Century on the site of the former Muslim fortress it provides spectacular views of the entire mountain range.

Next to the castle there is also the Templar church, it is the oldest parish church in Aracena and a National Monument. In was built between the XIII and XIV Centuries on top of the Mosque which was part of the aforementioned fortifications. (You have to book a visit at the Tourist Office).

Other places of interest are the La Asunción Church, Nuestra Señora del Mayor Dolor Church, the Town Hall, Santa Catalina Church, the Geology and Minerals Museum and the Contemporary Sculpture Museum

However Aracena´s hidden treasure is without a doubt La Gruta de las Maravillas (Cave of Marvels) – one of the most important natural monuments in the whole of Andalucia.

The cave is situated right in the centre of Aracena and you can find its entrance in Pozo de la Nieve Street. This fantastic natural monument inside the hill below the castle was formed by water filtering through the calcareous rock over the ages.

The size of its lakes, the abundance of rock formations and its sheer magnitude make this subterranean complex a must-see.

There is a 2,130 metres long horizontal cavity of which you can visit 1,200metres. The erosive action of water on the limestone rock over time has created a series of “karst” rock formations of extraordinary beauty, for example unusually shaped stalactites and stalagmites.

Story tells that a shepherd discovered the cave. The first historic reference to its existence was in 1886 and in 1914 it was opened to the public. During the visit you can see the twelve chambers and six lakes, which have all been illuminated. Meanwhile music increases your enjoyment.

The Geology and Minerals Museum is situated at the entrance to the cave. It was formed in 1983 with the donation of a large collection of minerals from all over the world by Francisco Orden Palomino.

Festivities:

La Candelaria, February

Festividad de San Blas Obispo, February 1st to 4th. Aracena protector

Holy week

Romería de la Divina Pastora, June 1st

Feria de Agosto, August 21 to 25th, very important fair, particularly its bull festivals

Romería de Santa Marina, September 2nd

Los Rehiletes, December 7th. Traditional Fall fairs

For further information: http://www.aracena.es/

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