Taken on a quiet summer Sunday in Alcalá de Guadaíra, this Spanish mill holds great historical context for the region. The day was humid, and the walk in this scenic park relaxed me. This place is one of the many places in Spain I may call home later due to how quiet it is. The gentle river flow is one of the things I remember greatly as I took this picture on my Sony Xperia Z2 Compact. The young men kidding with each other adds a depth to the area; a old-meets-new type of feel.
The location of this decrepit Spanish mill is in a park named Oromana. The name loosely translates to ‘gold hand’ in English. The park is located in Alcalá de Guadaíra, once a small city about 11 miles southeast of Seville which is, of course, the most major city nearby, and it is located by yet another historical and ancient city of Two Sisters, which is 9 miles southeast of Seville, and 8 miles south of Alcalá. The city’s name comes from the Spanish derivative of the Old Arabic word for fortress. So, in English, the city’s name means, ‘Fortress upon the Gaudaira’.
The Gold Hand park is located Calle Camino de Oromano and is 11 minuets south of the city’s center. The park is not just a recreational location, but consists of a school, multiple concrete and grass soccer fields, a basketball court, an outside work-out area, which are quiet popular throughout Europe, and walking trails that lead deep into the surrounding area. The original location of the city was full of bakeries which supplied Seville’s its daily bread and became known as, “The Breadbasket of Seville” in her early years. The city remained a minor town of between 6,000-11,000, but by 1970, the bustle of Sevillian life caused a great migration into the surrounding towns and caused them to swell in size to become suburbs of Seville.
The Gold Hand Park was created in order for those living there to take in the ancient location which consisted of multiple rundown, decrepit, and ancient mills, bakeries, and roads (Roman time) that dotted the river’s route. The cities planners did a great job. While I walked along the trails, taking in the pre-1920’s Spanish architecture with her Moorish inheritance, and listening to the ebb and flow of the river I came across that old mill. My friend told me that the mill in the picture was built sometime circa-1870’s, and operated up till her pre-teen years around 1970’s.
By that time the mill was in bad shape, and was abandoned for the city’s industrial area where mills still are in operation. What struck me about the area is when I came upon the mill’s old door, to the left of an ancient roman bridge. It was little, just a small bridge that crossed a tiny offshoot of the river, but it’s design was beautiful. The brick was easily noticed, and could be identified as ancient, and it’s quiet majesty was not lost upon me. The mills “windows” weren’t windows at all, but iron rods stuck vertically in the material.
As I looked into the area where the millstone was used, I was surprised to see the millstone still there! Not only that but the dirt floors appeared to still be worn down, and you could see here the grain was stored. It was such an eye opener, to see how the Southern Spanish worked, and just by looking in this mill, I could get a notion of the poverty the region has traditionally experienced. The mill was all white, painted that way for traditional purposes, and my friend told me, to reflect the harsh Spanish sun. Inside the aging walls there were many deep cracks being slowly reclaimed by grass.
The roofing was traditional mosaic as well. The tiling were worn, years and years of rain and wind, and had lost their clay color, and took on a dark color. The river was dammed by a road that led to the mill’s backside, I believe, the area where the grain was stored. When I walked on the road, it was full of holes and rocks, and overgrowth. There were boys and young men sitting along the river’s edge, fishing for small fish, or enjoying the summer’s sun. walking around the mills I noticed that it was built upon an artificial island that was left open for the mill to utilize the river’s flow to power the mill. I can only imagine that the mill’s foundation will be eaten away by the flow of the river long after we’re passed.
The Guadaíra River flows east-southeast of the city and it’s source is the Quadalquivir River. The river has been heavily polluted with waste products from olive and other industries dumping and not to mention human waste being dumped. Back in 2005 a man named Héctor R. Rubio who started a project called, The Environmental Regeneration and Recovery Open Spaces and Green Areas in the banks of the Guadaíra River. With a budget well right of 16 million Euros,this project’s main goal was to restore the river’s pristine waterways, restoration of its banks and forests that once surrounded the region. Also part of its plans was to restore the old hydraulic capacities as it once had during its use for flour. The project has been mainly completed, but is still ongoing, and when I was there you can see its work in progress.
The beautiful appearance of the region is one of utter appeal. The arid climate mixed with mountainous terrain and the ancient Castillo de Alcalá de Guadaíra and its history creates an atmosphere of intrigue. I would encourage anyone to get out and inspire your own adventure! Go visit the ancient battlefields that are everywhere in southern Spain! Go visit the architecture,the thriving city centers, the people! I promise you; it won’t disappoint!