Lugares - monumentos - Fuentes de Argales
The fountains of Argales
A project for water supply and distribution to the city
In 1390 the King Juan I donated the properties Alcázar and Alcazarejo to the brotherhood of San Benito, and in 1441 Juan II donated the land of Argales with its fountain to them. The monks conveyed the water to the monastery through clay pipes, but there was not enough pressure and remodelling was very expensive. In 1583 the king approved a project for water supply and distribution to the city that included fountains, and in 1584 the monastery handed over the water facilities to the City Council, provided that a part was allocated to them. A closed water conveyance structure with tanks or manholes was chosen, designed by Juan Herrera. The works started in 1586 leaded by Juan de Nates and Diego de Praves. Out of the 8 fountains originally planned, 3 were made: in Plaza de Zorrilla, Fuente Dorada and La Rinconada. The works finished in 1622. It is believed that there were 32 arches (27 of them outside the city, at both sides of the road Pinar de Antequera). Today we conserve 14 and other 4 that are semi-buried. They are made of stone, quadrangular, linteled door, and with a pyramidal or saddle-roof. Arch no. 1 (they are numbered) is the main one or the Royal Arch, dates from 1589 and bears the royal coat of arms. It was made by Diego de Praves. There are 5 km from arch no.1 to the monastery. The system was known then as “Viaje de Aguas de Argales”, Cervantes mentions it in his book La ilustre fregona (The Illustrious Kitchen-Maid): “…that they might see the grand aqueducts, which were then in course of construction, for the purpose of conveying the waters of Argales to that city.… ” In the following centuries the network and the fountains were extended. The spring of Argales was closed in 1974 after being tested and found to be not drinkable. The system was declared a Historical Artistic Monument in 1982.