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Roman Baths Roman Aquaduct Castillo de la Duquesa

In the valley below Manilva are the Roman Sulphur baths of Hedionda. The high sulphur content is due to a sulphur spring which flows from a limestone outcrop above the valley. It attracted the attention of the Romans 2000 years ago and an arched bathing complex was created of which four chambers still exist, although other adjacent water channels can be seen which suggest the complex was once much larger. A small first chamber leads via an archway and tunnel to a much larger inner chamber.

Sulphur is one of the elements essential to life as a constituent of various biologically active compounds. Pure sulphur is odourless but when combined with hydrogen to produce hydrogen sulphide it has the odour of rotten eggs. Nevertheless sulphur has long been renowned for its medicinal properties. Bathing in sulphur springs to maintain or improve the condition of the skin or to cure some epidermal complaint is a ancient tradition. Julius Caesar is said to have cured himself of a skin infection by bathing here between 63 and 60 BC.

In fact the baths are quite popular on fine Sunday afternoons. Families from the village picnic on the surrounding grass under the shade of eucalyptus trees and the children take over the baths. The Roman Oasis Restaurant is a popular family destination which is famous for its BBQs.

Across the river from the baths there are ruins of 18th century farm buildings which re-used Roman masonry. It is clear that some kind of service settlement did evolve around the complex. To find these follow the river downstream about 75m until you come to an old but recently restored single-arch aqueduct. This was used to help irrigate the fertile valley further down and its course can be traced for much of the way. This irrigation system is certainly Roman in origin but much of the infrastructure was rebuilt during the Moorish period.

Two km upstream towards Casares, there are some interesting mills and irrigation channels. Access is gained by following the stream bed and this makes a pleasant walk as the river valley closes in. The valley is made for the adventurous hiker. It ultimately connects with the mills of Casares but it is an all day walk and scramble.

The baths can be reached carefully by two wheel drive car by turning off the N340 by the "Andalucian Dream Homes" Estate agents just west of Sabinillas and following the road upast the Sunday Market an up the valley and under the new toll motorway viaduct.


Roman Aqueduct

Along side the road between the coast and the baths you will see a 100m long surviving stretch of an aqueduct reputed to be of Roman origin. It does not span the whole valley but was used to drive a large water wheel as part of a mill complex. A rustic cottage now stands on the foundations of the Roman/Moorish mill house. Roman brick can be seen through the structure. Water to power the mill was almost certainly channelled off by aqueducts at the Roman baths which kept the water elevated until it reached the mill.


Castillo de la Duquesa

Situated just to the west of the marina of Puerto de la Duquesa is the small coastal village of Castillo. Castillo takes its name from the Castillo de la Duquesa which is the 18th Century fortress which stands at the entrance. The castle was built in 1767 by Francisco Paulino of Seville. As a reward to Francisco Paulino for providing the castle builders with much needed work and for building the castle. The Spanish King Carlos III granted Paulino the command of a company of cavalry. Excavation work has begun again in 2007 near the castle grounds as more roman ruins have been discovered which add to the cultural and historical importance of the site. Today the castle is used as municipal offices, trainee workshops and the site for exhibitions and cultural events. At night the castillo is a striking landmark on the Manilva coastline as it is illuminated. The numerous tapas bars and famous fish restaurants in Castillo de la Duquesa make this a popular destination for a taste of traditional Spanish cuisine.

Castillo de la Duquesa, Duquesa
Castillo de la Duquesa, Duquesa It has been suggested that the village may have been called Saltum in classical times when it was a bustling industrial centre whose chief products were salted fish and a rather peculiar paste made from fermented fish guts known as Garum. This ancient 'Gentlemen's Relish' was much sought after back in Rome and so brought a great deal of prosperity to this corner of the Empire. Castillo de la Duquesa and the surrounding area underwent major excavations in 1989 which revealed much of the village's infrastructures. The site is one of the most extensive roman ruins in the whole of Andalucia.
 It includes a bath house site to the south of the castle overlooking Plaza del Baņos Romanos. The bath house consists of two large chambers and a hot house whose under-floor heating system can be clearly seen. White mosaic floors in other areas have survived. To the west of the bath house between the castle and the main road once stood a Roman villa.  A little north of the barracks there is the site of a Roman necropolis or graveyard. Since the additional major findings in 2007 excavation will continue and the extensive site will undoubtedly grow to become a major historical attraction. Internal Courtyard, Castillo de la Duquesa
Another recently rebuilt attraction in Castillo de la Duquesa is the beautiful Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Carmen church. This is a traditional Spanish church that is the epicentre to Castillo de la Duquesa village life.

For Restaurants and bars in Castillo de la Duquesa view our Manilva Bars and Restaurant guide

Castillo de la Duquesa Village Church. Homepage
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