The chapel of Nª Sra. de la Cinta



The Chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Cinta – the Patron Virgin of Huelva and also the Perpetual Mayor of the City – is a highly relevant monument for the people in Huelva. The Chapel is located in one of the hills known as ‘cabezos’, which shape Huelva’s landscape, and linked not only with the architecture of the capital city but also with its historical role as a ‘Discoverer’ – it was here where Christopher Columbus prayed in gratitude to the success of his expedition. The admiral and his crew had reached America and sailed back to Europe through a stormy Atlantic Ocean which made them fear for their lives. Columbus promised that he would faithfully pray to the Virgin de la Cinta in this Chapel which carries her name if the journey came to a good end.

The Exhibition

The Virgin de la Cinta is, thus, closely related to Columbus. The devotion to her graven image, the creation of her religious brotherhood, and the construction of this Chapel took place in the fifteenth century and their origin is closely related to the Discovery of America. Local seamen who sailed from Huelva to America became fervent devotees of this Virgin who is taken out in procession every 8 September as Patron of Huelva.

Architectonic Characteristics

The Chapel is a fifteenth-century, Gothic-and-Mudéjar building which has been rebuild and used for many different purposes throughout history. Its rectangular-shaped ground plan is divided into two different areas, what reminds of Muslim mosques.

The first area consists of a fenced patio surrounded by galleries with round arches on three out of its four sides. A second floor with a two-bodied bell gable was built in the eighteenth century on the east gallery. The access to the Chapel strictly speaking is made through three sixteenth-century doors with pointed horseshoe arches made of bricks.

The chapel consists of three naves. The central nave is wider than the lateral ones and has a roof consisting of a coffered armature with carved struts and a flat chevet. The two lateral naves have also rectangular chevets and wooden shed roofs.

We should remark the eighteenth-century, main reredos made of painted wood covered with gold leaf. There, we can see an oil painting – the portrait of the Virgin de la Cinta. We can also find in the chapel a carving from around 1760 which faithfully reproduces the painting. This carving was made of painted wood covered with gold leaf and has been attributed to some apprentice of carver Benito Hita del Castillo’s, who was from Seville.