El Rocio is a town situated 55 km from Huelva, in Almonte province. It looks as if it was built to film westerns there. Wide SANDY roads connect unique houses with wide porches, and in front of every one of those there is a… pole to tie horses to… The town is the goal of the annual pilgrimage of Pentecost, in which around a million of pilgrims from all over Europe participate, trying to reach the goal on foot, horse or in ornamented horse carriages.
There is a legend that say that in the fifteenth century a hunter from Villamanrique de la Condesa came near Las Focinas for hunt. He followed a group of barking dogs believing that they are leading him towards a wounded animal, but instead, he stepped into thorn bushes and weeds hostile towards animals and people. There, he suddenly notice a painting depicting a beautiful person wearing a white linen tunic shining with light and love – that is what the legend says…. The hunter decided to take the painting to the nearby Alamote, but since he was tired, he took a break. After he woke up, he realized that the painting disappeared and he quickly went back to the place, in which he found it in the first place. He was not wrong doing so because there was the painting shining beautifully near the olive trunk. Long story short, the local Christian authorities decided to build there a small chapel with the painting situated in the original trunk. That is how the worship of Virgin of Lac Rocinas (the locals call her La BlancaPaloma) started, and we can find her on almost all types of souvenirs offered in the area. The chapel was built in Mudejar style around 1300, but it did not survive the great earthquake of 1755. After numerous reconstructions, the current shrine named Ermita de Nuestra Senora de El Rocio got blessed on 12 April 1969. It was remade by architects Antonio Delgado and Rogio, as well as Alberto Balbontina de Orta.
It is interesting to note that in 1993 pope John Paul II visited El Rocio.
If you are in the centre, you will not be able to miss the candle room – Sala de Velas and El Rocio Community Centre, in which you can learn more about this peculiar place situated on the western side of Andalusia. The houses surrounding Ermita were built mainly for pilgrims, who come here in great numbers and many of whom decided to build their residences here.
The whole thing looks really atmospheric. We had a strange impression as if the time stopped or if we really were a part of some movie production. Right next to the town, there is a green border of the famous Donana Park.
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