Located on the old N340 coast road between Nerja and Maro, the San Joaquín sugar mill´s ruined buildings serve as a reminder of the importance that the sugar industry played in local history.
Sugar manufacturing has been part of the Mediterranean way of life for centuries. Earliest records of sugar cultivation in Andalucía date from the 10th century on the coast of Granada province, due to its exceptional climate.
In 1585, the first mechanical sugar mill in the area was built in Maro, the ruins of which still form a central part of the old village, today. Further mills followed in Nerja and Frigiliana, before the San Joaquín sugar mill and distillery was erected in 1884 by master builder, Francisco Cantarero, for the Marquis de Tous.
To supply the factory, large areas of sugar cane were planted nearby with water flowing through irrigation channels from the newly-built Eagle Aqueduct (Acueducto del Aquila). This established a close relationship between the cultivation and industrial processes, a project that became known as The Agricultural Colony of Las Mercedes and Maro (La Colonia Agrícola de las Mercedes y Maro) and which continued until 1911 when the San Joaquín sugar mill closed. The Larios sugar company acquired the mill in 1930 and production continued until the second half of the 20th century. Since then, buildings have fallen into disrepair.
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