Water and irrigation systems
The Alpujarras' most precious resource
The springs of crystal-clear water that descend from the melting snows of the Sierra Nevada were music to Moorish ears. They held it in great esteem and respect. They loved its sound and revelled in its beauty.
They became experts at channelling these waters through a sophisticated network of irrigation channels or acequias. In some places they are still to be seen just as they were then and they remain the main source of irrigation today.
In Los Guájares, for instance, the system dates back to the Almohad period.
But it's not just a question of aesthetics. In an area that has traditionally relied on farming for survival, and yet where the summers are long, hot and mercilessly rain-free, not a drop of the rain or snow that has fallen over the winter or spring can be allowed to go to waste, and the relatively lush, green and fertile look of the high slopes of the Alpujarras even in June are testament to the success of system.
Ancient riverside water mills, stone water tanks known as albercas, and a myriad of acequias characterise the landscape of the Alpujarras. In the villages and towns you will find numerous fuentes (fountains), flowing ceaselessly with, on the whole, crystal-clear and icy-cold drinking water, and traditional lavaderos (public wash houses) where until very recently women would wash their clothes, scrubbing them with home-made soap, just as their forebears has done in Moorish times.
Other water-related highlights include the ferrous water springs of La Tahá (especially Pórtugos) and Pampaneira.
Not to be missed is the spa or Balneario in Lanjarón, with its minero-medicinal waters, which is a very popular tourist destination and a fantastic example of how the waters of the Alpujarras are made full use of. Lanjarón's mineral water is also bottled and exported all over Spain and Europe.
Notable springs and drinking water fountains in Las Alpujarras
- Bubión: Cuatro Caños fountain
- Cáñar: Poyo Díos fountain
- Cástaras: Los Caños fountain
- El Golco: Los Llanitos, San Miguel and Los Remedios fountains
- Ferreirola: Fuente Gaseosa fountain - ferrous water with natural gas
- Lanjarón: Las Adelfas fountain
- Laroles: Pilar de las Yeguas
- Los Bérchules: Paraíso fountain, Las Carmelitas fountain
- Murtas: Cuartel, Santa Cruz and La Golera fountain
- Nechite: Las Margaritas fountain
- Órgiva: Los Cantares fountain
- Pampaneira: Los Poetas, Cerrilo and San Antonio fountains
- Pórtugos: Fuente Agria fountain - ferrous water springs
- Válor: La Tableta fountain
- Yegen: Los Tres Caños, Fuente Agria fountain