The Eagle Aqueduct (El Puente del Águila) was built in the 19th century as a means of supplying water to the San Joaquín sugar factory on the outskirts of the town of Nerja.
Damaged during the Spanish Civil War, but recently restored, the Eagle Aqueduct comprises four storeys of superimposed brick arcades with 37 arches. Soaring high above the spire at the central point of the structure is a weather vane in the shape of a double-headed eagle, from which the aqueduct takes its name. The structure is 40 metres tall and 90 metres wide, with it’s design being typical of the period of construction, when the Mudéjar-style was very popular.
Situated on the Barranco de la Coladilla and spanning a ravine close to the Nerja Caves and the village of Maro, the aqueduct is visible from the old N340 coast road linking Nerja with Maro. With a backdrop of the Sierra Almijara, it´s easy to see why this is one of the most photographed images of the local area. There is a lay-by at the side of the road where you can leave the car to get a good view or to take photographs of the monument. The area surrounding the aqueduct is public land and free to visit.
Strangely, the facade visible from the viewpoint is the rear of the construction, as the aqueduct faces north. The Eagle Aqueduct was NOT built by the Romans, as many believe, though the remains of a Roman bridge and the old Roman road to Malaca (Málaga), were unearthed nearby.
Despite the closure of the San Joaquín sugar mill many years ago, the aqueduct continues to be used for the irrigation of local farmland.
Sweet memories: San Joaquín sugar mill
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Travel theme: Architecture
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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