Turismo de Alcalá de Guadaíra

The Water Mine and the Pipes (Caños) of Carmona


During centuries, Alcalá de Guadaíra supplied water to Seville, through a complex network of channels originated at Santa Lucia's Fountain, at the Southeast of Alcalá's urban core.

From the spring, a series of subterranean galleries excavated at the rocky layer (the "water mines") flowed under Alcalá, crossing the town from East to West, linking to Seville Road until Torreblanca de los Caños. At this point, the subterranean channel emerged as an aqueduct, reaching the city of Seville through Carmona Gate, from where the name "Caños de Carmona" (Carmona Pipes) was given to the last stretch of the aqueduct.

Alcalá's water had fame in Seville of good-quality, when compared to the brackish water that was extracted from the artisan wells from where most people supplied water for themselves; so having access to a Pipe of water that came from "Los Caños" was a social status symbol.

The recent history of the Pipes of Carmona reaches early 20th century, with consecutive transformations and enlargements of the original spring, like the ones made by The Seville Water Works firm in the 19th century. But the origin of the "water mine" of Alcalá starts out long time before, surely during the Roman period. We know that Hispalis was supplied water by means of an aqueduct, probably destroyed from Visigothic age and disappeared during the first Andalusí centuries. But it was not until 1171, when the Almohad Caliph Abú Ya'qub orders the recovery and reconstruction of the water supply from the fountain of Gabar in Qalat Yabir (Alcalá de Guadaíra). The reconstruction of the aqueduct came probably at the same time than the cleaning of the still lasting subterranean galleries and the opening of new stretches, in order to guarantee the supply to the Almohad capital of Al-Andalus.

After the Castilian Conquest of the 13th century, the maintenance of water supply was a constant for Sevillian Councillors, and it explains in part the importance that Alcalá de Guadaíra got during the Late Middle Ages. In Alcalá itself, the water mine was developed along these centuries, as well as during the Modern Age, by means of the opening of secondary channels that made possible the supply to most part of the population. The importance of this underground current went so far as to make possible the installation of a mill, the Molino de la Mina (or Mine Mill) placed at the street of the same name (now called Santa María del Águila).

Today, the water mine galleries are part of a subterranean legacy that is being rediscovered. The Mine Mill, over which the Gutiérrez de Alba Theatre was built, can be visited with occasion of specific activities, and gradually the different channels are being known, those that still spread out towards the "Road to Seville" and the fragments of aqueduct that can be seen on Luis Montoto Street of Sevillian capital city.

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