Mills in Altoaragón - harinero, central eléctrica


Jánovas is situated in the Solana region between Boltaña and Fiscal on the main road between L'Ainsa and Torla. The mill is best reached from Lacort. Coming from Boltaña you'll first reach the panoramic viewpoint of Jánovas, then the branch to Yeba and San Martín and after a while you'll reach a narrow turn to the right with a (the first) house at the left. At that spot a track brings you to a suspension bridge over the Río Ara. Drop the car. Cross the bridge and walk to the left where you'll find the channel leading to the mill. First follow the path and then the tree-line along the channel. It's perhaps a good a idea to try first to locate the mill from the road (pict. 1).
The mill takes water from the Río Ara.

Pictures: 1.III.2007 and 11.IV.2007

(1) Jánovas (black arrow) with its mill - 27.V.1992
(2) South facing wall of mill

Once upon a time (before everyone got expelled for a dam never to materialize) this region was teeming with life. The mill of Jánovas was important not only as a wheat mill but also as a supplier of electricity. The local blacksmith even had an electric welding installation at his disposal.
The mill is a relatively large construction with two storeys. The wheat mill and the power station were situated at the groundlevel. Upstairs were living quarters. This was probably not always the case as we can learn from the walls outside. All around a colour difference (2, 3, 4) betrays several consecutive building stages.

(3) South-east corner with oven
(4) Wall facing east

(5) North face, harinero left, central right
Presumably first the second floor with the living quarters were added and the roof built higher up. The power station (5) is a more recent addition and built against the western wall. The stone is much darker.

Next to the mill (visible on pict. 3, 4) is a small construction: an oven. Bigger mills (see also Centenera, Sarvisé) often run a bakery.

The south-east corner of the mill doubtless merits a closer look. Both walls each carry a sundial, badly bleached by the light, but still clearly recognizable.

(6) Sundial on south-wall
(7) Sundial on east-wall

The lowest part of the sundial on the southern wall (6) is about level with the top of the entrance door (2). The style is gone, but the red paint of the dial did survive. The design is plain without frills (or maybe that ornaments are weathered away) but drawn with precision. Notice the marks for the hours, half hours and even the quarters.
Because the wall isn't oriented exactly to the south, but turned to the west, the sun can't cast a shadow during the first hours of the day. That's why the maker of this sundial didn't bother to paint any mark before ten. Because of the wall's inclination the scale is also asymmetrical. The distances between the early hours (10-13) are smaller than between the later hours (14-18).
Not far from Jánovas in the direction of Boltaña lies Ascaso where you'll find two beautiful sundials. Visit the sundials of Ascaso (you'll leave this site.)
Normally the shadow at noon (12h local suntime) lies vertically below the insertion point of the style. Here a 13 was written which means that the legal time is shown (noon at 15° east). The 13-mark is slightly off the vertical. That is probably meant to adjust for the position a bit to the west of the meridian (of Greenwich). It makes that 1 pm is reached a trifle earlier than local noon, thus before the shadow falls straight down.

The second sundial (7) is facing east and therefore complements the first. It will catch the early morning light, but lie in the shadow from noon. The scale stops at 12. So there is an overlap between the two dials.

Read more about life in the Solana region, the villages and about Jánovas in particular. (all in Spanish)
La Solana de Burgasé y la Ribera de Jánovas
by Luis Buisán Villacampa - 2004
ISBN: 84-609-1784-3
La Solana
Vida cotidiana en un valle altoaragonés

by Carlos Baselga Abril - 1999
ISBN: 84-605-8764-9
El río Ara es de todos
Jornadas 2000

Red. Ana Ruiz and José M. Santos - 2000
Ed. Asocíación Río Ara, Lígüerre de Cinca
Víctimas de un pantano de papél

by Marisancho Menjón - 2004
ISBN: 84-8324-178-1
Crónica de las gentes de los ríos
by Begoña Pérez-Fajardo - 2010
find the book at
A book about history, people and the Río Ara.

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