Port City Presentation








In its unequivocal commitment to the economic and social development of Huelva society, the Port of Huelva continues to contribute value to the development of its entire area of influence.

The Port of Huelva, in its unequivocal commitment to the economic and social development of Huelva society, continues to contribute value to the development of its entire area of influence, thus consolidating its position as the region’s economic engine, generating 1.8% of Andalusia’s Gross Value Added, contributing 0.8% of Andalusian employment, with a total of 25,979 jobs. This impact is even greater in the province of Huelva, where the Port of Huelva generates 27.7% of the Gross Value Added and 12.5% of total employment. All this without forgetting our commitment to being a green and innovative port, committed to the environment and to the conservation of the natural wonders that are close to us, such as the Marismas del Odiel Natural Park.



Throughout history, many peoples have made contact with and inhabited the Odiel estuary, on the southwest coast of Spain. Navigators and merchants from distant countries sought the region’s riches in metals: Tartessians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths… And with the passage of time, we know that the feat of the Discovery of America originated in the port area of Huelva, specifically in La Rábida and the Port of Palos. Its author was Christopher Columbus, although the sailors of Huelva played an enormous role in the first voyages to the New World, especially in the one that revealed America to Europe.

During the Modern Age, the town of Huelva, together with Puerto de Santa María, led the fishing industry on the Atlantic coast of Andalusia, and closely linked to this activity was the exploitation of salt. The town council regulated the sale of fresh fish by means of ordinances, which were carried out using the same auction system as today. Specifically in the 18th century, the danger of pirates diminished and the economy was reactivated by this circumstance, together with the transfer of the Casa de Contratación from Seville to Cadiz – which integrated the Port of Huelva into the American circuits – and the creation of the Huelva Customs Office.

Huelva was chosen for its natural port and its strategic location on the Atlantic coast as an outlet to the sea for mineral transport.

A transcendental milestone at the dawn of the 19th century was the naming of Huelva as a provincial capital, which was followed by the revitalisation of mining in the hands of foreign capital. It was decided that the most profitable way of transporting ore was by sea, and Huelva was chosen for its natural port and its strategic location on the Atlantic coast. Subsequently, the large Rio Tinto and Tharsis companies built railways and wharves in the same service area as the Port of Huelva.

In this context, in December 1873, a group of influential people from the province of Huelva contributed with their tenacity to the birth of the Special Board of Commerce and Port of Huelva, the current Port Authority of Huelva. Thus, the administrative development of the institution took place slowly: Regulations for its regime, expenditure budget, works plan, constitution of the definitive Board, etc. Alongside this evolution, a great effort was made by the technical engineers in the work of channelling and dredging the river to enable the movement of the large ships which, with the new technology, were beginning to be launched. The first director of the Port of Huelva, Carlos Mª Cortés, was appointed by the king in 1876 and, subsequently, in 1880, the first general project for the Port was approved, which gradually built up its original infrastructures and in 1888 the South Quay was inaugurated.

The Port of Huelva, in terms of fishing, began to develop at the end of the 19th century, coinciding with the acquisition of the first English steam boats by Huelva shipowners, and as a result of the increase in catches, a new fish market was built for the sale of fish in 1893, on the grounds of the Dock, which was in operation until 1970, when it was moved to the northern part of the Levante quay.

In fact, the origin of the modernisation of the Huelva fleet was linked to Guillermo Sundheim, a notable businessman of German origin who settled in Huelva.

The 20th century saw the beginning of a very important period of construction, in which the figure of the director Francisco Montenegro stood out. The following stood out: the North Quay, the Casa del Vigía, the Mineral Depot, the Warehouse and the Locomotive Depot. However, another important proposal that was carried out in the 1920s was the Muelle de Levante, a symbol of innovation for the engineering of the time due to its infrastructure based on reinforced concrete caissons. Montenegro’s great vision of the future cannot be doubted, as he understood that the export of minerals would not be the traffic of the future, and he opted to open the Port of Huelva to other goods. At the same time, we must highlight the intense dredging that he carried out to improve the draught of the Port of Huelva, which resulted in an extensive area of embankments, as well as an important cleaning of the bottom of the estuary.

The 20th century saw the beginning of a very important period of construction in which the figure of the director Francisco Montenegro stood out.

On the other hand, the twenties were also marked by a series of events which took place and in which the Port played a very special role: the flight of the Plus Ultra, the inauguration of the Columbus Monument or the collaboration in the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929, to mention the most interesting ones. Subsequently, since the end of the Spanish Civil War, the Huelva fishing industry has offered a panorama of marked growth. While in the years preceding the war, fishing was more of a coastal activity, in the 1940s the Huelva fishing fleet boomed, as did catches, generating an industry with a predominance of deep-sea fishing, and the marketing of these products reached a wider range of action. This was helped by the improvement of means of transport and refrigeration systems.

In fact, since the First World War, the decline has been inexorable, with only favourable moments in the economic situation.

Already in the sixties, a great change took place in the Port of Huelva and the mineral port became an industrial port. All the port facilities that were located in the inland area, which required costly dredging, were transferred, for the most part, to the Outer Harbour, which had a deeper draught. Huelva was then declared an Industrial Promotion and Development Pole based, above all, on the existence of a port and the province’s pyritic wealth. In turn, by Decree of 2 October 1969, the Port of Huelva was granted the first Statute of Autonomy, and in 1975, at the same time as the New Port Industrial Estate in Palos de la Frontera was extended, the service area in the Outer Port was increased, which made the Port of Huelva the Industrial Port par excellence of the Spanish South Atlantic coast, with a strong oil, chemical and petrochemical development.

But the depression of 1929 affected Spain, as it did the rest of the world’s suppliers of raw materials of all kinds; and the situation continued to decline due to the events that followed: the civil and international wars. The Second World War brought the mines to a complete standstill due to the insecurity of transport, as well as the rise in taxes.

On the other hand, since the 1960s, the frozen fish industry has also been developing in Spain, and Huelva, which specialises in catching crustaceans, sent its freezer vessels to African waters in search of this seafood. Today, the Port of Huelva occupies a very prominent position among those dedicated to fishing, both in terms of the quantity and quality of the fish landed, and is one of the main ports in Europe for the marketing of frozen seafood.

In recent years, the Port has continued with the dynamic of strengthening its resources, at the same time as it is in the process of diversifying its activity with the attraction of new traffic and the consolidation of regular maritime lines, in order to stop being basically an industrial enclave focused on the loading and unloading of solid and liquid bulk. With this objective in mind, it continues to invest in new infrastructures to provide a greater and better service. The results obtained in recent years show a clear upward trend, evidenced by the high figures obtained in terms of traffic volume, which exceed all those achieved throughout its history.

Ana María Mojarro Bayo
Huelva, 18 June 2012



The Port of Huelva is located on the South Atlantic arc of Europe, close to the Strait of Gibraltar, at the crossroads of the North-South and East-West shipping routes. Huelva is a natural estuary port. With a protected water area of 1,120 hectares. It is the port with the largest extension of free surface area to be concessioned in the state port system, with 1,700 hectares. It has 8.5 kilometres of public and private quays.

With a great specialisation in liquid and solid bulk traffic, the Port of Huelva is an industrial and energy port, which has a new quay with a logistics vocation, the South Quay, where it operates a regular container line. (www.opdr.com) to northern Europe and a ferry linking Huelva with the Canary Islands. (www.navieraarmas.com), as well as receiving cruise ship calls.

Open 365 days a year, the entrance channel is between 200 and 300 metres wide and has a depth of 13 metres at low tide. It has good motorway connections with Seville and other Andalusian provinces, Madrid and the Portuguese Algarve. As for rail connections, it is connected to Seville, Cordoba, Extremadura and Madrid.



The Port of Huelva is surrounded by 12,000 hectares of natural spaces, made up of the natural areas of the great wetlands of Marismas del Odiel and the Domingo Rubio estuary, as well as the nature reserves of Isla de En Medio and Marisma del Burro. Of these areas, a total of 560 hectares are included in the service area of the Port.



Admiral Christopher Columbus set sail from the area around the Port of Huelva in 1492 along with sailors from the province to discover America. In the vicinity of the Port you can visit the Monastery of La Rábida and the Columbian sites, where you can see a recreation of the discovery ships at the Caravel pier. Likewise, the Port of Huelva is home to the sculpture that the American people bequeathed to the city of Huelva through the Columbus Memorial Foundation. The monument to Columbus or the Discovering Faith was inaugurated in 1929 and is the work of the sculptor Gertrude Vanderbil Whitney.



The Port of Huelva also has the English imprint that the British left in the province in the 19th and 20th centuries when they exploited the copper from the Riotinto mines. The Port of Huelva has an ore loading quay, known as the Tinto quay. In the town of Minas de Riotinto you can see the Corta Atalaya, the largest European open-cast mine, as well as the mining museum and take a train ride to see the amazing beauty of the Tinto River, where research on the planet Mars is being carried out. In the city of Huelva you can visit the Casa Colón, a hotel built by the English that has been converted into an exhibition and conference centre, as well as the Reina Victoria or English quarter.



Huelva is one of Spain’s provinces with one of the largest areas of natural spaces. This is attested to by its 122 kilometres of beaches, many of them undeveloped, and its overflowing nature with areas of great ecological value such as the Doñana Park and the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve. In addition, there is the Gruta de las Maravillas de Aracena (Cave of Wonders of Aracena). On the other hand, in the surroundings of Doñana you can visit the hermitage of the Virgen de El Rocío and its marshes, as well as the palaces of El Acebuche and El Acebrón.