Roman Aqueducts in Almuñecar
What is an Aqueduct?An Aqueduct is a water bearing conduit that carries fresh water from remote sources or rivers to other areas which do not have a water supply adequate for their populations or their industrial activities.
Though they were first created in the near East and India, aqueducts are generally associated with the Roman Empire during which time many were constructed both in Rome itself and in other cities across the Roman Empire. At the time the Roman Empire covered the whole of present-day Europe, including the British Isles, and much of the near East.
Why Aqueducts in Almuñecar?Around 49 BC the Romans named an area on the southern coast of what is now Spain: Firmium Julian Sexi... current day Almuñecar. Within this area they developed further a large fish salting and curing industry which had already been in existence for several centuries... originally built by the Phoenicians.
The water requirements for the fish curing process were considerable, so the Roman engineers built five aqueducts... all of which still exist today. They brought water from the valleys of the Rio Seco and Rio Verde to help aid in production.
All five aqueducts are still standing (four of them are still used for irrigation):
- The Rio Seco Aqueducts (parts I, II & III)
- The Torrecuevas Aqueduct
- The Carrera Aqueduct
Archeological excavations in the 1950's and 1980's uncovered the remains of many of these structures in and around Almuñecar. Today a beautiful botanical garden called El Majuelo Park has been created around the ruins of the ancient Fish Salting Factory.
Aqueducts You Can Visit...
The Virgen del AguaThe Virgen del Agua is not an aqueduct, but it is important because it was built to give thanks to the Virgen for her bountiful supply of water to the area which was a very important resource at that time.
Water was needed in abundance to run the fish salting factory in town, which became very successful and well known throughout the whole of the Mediterranean.
To this day you will still see candles lit and flowers left for the Virgen of the water as a blessing for her offerings.
Where is the Virgen del Agua
You will find the Virgen del Agua on the road out of town towards Jete. After passing under the new highway bridge and continuing another 1km, keep a look out on your left side.
You will see the small place of worship across the dry riverbed, built into the lower wall. There is a small but rugged turnoff on the left-hand side of the road just past the actual spot. If the river is dry, you can drive or walk down to get a closer look.
The Rio Seco AqueductsThere are three actual structures that make up the Rio Seco Aqueduct system, they have been creatively named I, II and III.
Number III (photo at the top of the page and below) is the most impressive, it's comprised of multiple levels of arches. At one point this structure was very hard to see up close, but the town in recent years has created a small park around it.
There is now a small playground for the kids and they have also built steps that will take you up to the top of the hill to enjoy views of the impressive monument from above and the beautiful Rio Seco River Valley behind it.
Sections I and II are still very hard to access as they are on private land. However, if you are feeling adventurous you can try finding them.
If you make your way onto the Rio Seco dry riverbed, and continue to drive north you will eventually see the structures on your right. You could also drive to the top of the hill on the left side of the River Seco riverbed to get a view of all three of the sections working together.
Where to Find the Rio Seco Aqueducts
You can easily access Section III by driving through the San Sebastian neighborhood going out of town toward Jete. On the left hand side, you will see a large sign that points the way to the Aqueduct Park. Follow this road to its end and you will see the entrance to the park.
In the Rio Seco, aqueducts I and II can be found by following the riverbed as far inland as 700 meters which will allow the visitor a view of the most impressive sections of the arches... before the aqueducts disappear into private or residential property.
The Torrecuevas AqueductThe area around the Torrecuevas Aqueduct has been built up over the years, taking away slightly from its beauty but not from its impressiveness. It is the longest remaining aqueduct in Almuñécar with a length of 130 meters and boasting 17 working arches.
A patio has been built around the monument with benches to sit and ponder all that has happened in the area over the thousands of years.
Where to Find the Torrecuevas Aqueduct
The Torrecuevas Aqueduct can be found just outside of town on the road to Jete. It is very easy to find because of its proximity to town. You will find this section about 3 km out of town on the right-hand side of the street before you reach the bridge for the new highway.
The Carrera AqueductThe remnants found from the Carrera section of the old water system and the Roman Baths are right in the middle of town. These are located on the opposite side of Carbonell (large hardware store) and across from the fountain.
Also check out:
Where to Find the Carrera Aqueduct
From the N-340 highway, turn into Almuñecar at the McDonalds exit. Continue to the end of the street and take a right. The aqueduct will be on your right-hand side before you get to the roundabout with the fountain.