Mills in Alto Aragón

Villanovilla

Villanovilla is a small village in the Garcipollera region. From Jaca take the main road to France. Turn right in Castiello de Jaca towards Bescós and Villanovilla and the Virgen of Iguacel. The road longs the tiny river Ijuez and after some time makes a sharp turn to the right in order to cross the river and reach the village. Drop your vehicle a this sharp turn and walk the river down to the west until you spot the enormous wall (1) of the pond. Alternatively, walk back along the road and try to discern the embalse behind the trees.

Pictures: 19.VIII.2011

(1) Pond of the mill of Villanovilla seen from the east

Though there is nothing much left of the mill pro­per (2) the site is definitely worth a visit because of the embalse. Take a look at pict. 3 in order to appre­ciate the enormous storage capacity. Notice also how fine the finishing with selected natural stone and a coating on the inner face. There is even a primitive ladder leading down (4, 7) into the pond.

I couldn't figure out how exactly the pond was fed, but there where probably two sources, one being the Río Ijuez and the other the run-off of the slopes behind the mill.

The 1st (1936) and 2nd (1952) editions of the maps of the Instituto Geográfico Nacional show the molino with power lines to the neighbouring villages Yosa and Bescós de Garcipollera, Acín and Larrosa, but not to Villanovilla itself although the mill was owned by someone living in that village. Was the distance too short? Laziness of the map makers?

It's obvious that, even with such a huge capacity of the embalse, it must have been difficult to supply a reliable and regular energy flow, certainly during the often very dry summers.

(2) Some stone heaps below shrubs: the former mill
Notice the yellowish tree in both pictures.

(3) Inside the pond of the mill of Villanovilla; the walls reach about 4m high!

(4) Saetín with ladder
(5)
(6)

(7) Ladder
In the wall opposite the outlet (saetín) to the mill a peculiar device was found (5, 6). I've never seen something like it before and I'm not sure about its use.

It is basically a small door situated at mid height of the reservoir. It's sunk into the wall and in order to make it possible to reach it from above the stone column from the valve to the top is retracted. Why not mount the device simply on the surface instead?


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