Natural Park Laguna de Fuente de Piedra

The name of the Fuente de Piedra, fountain of stone or stone fountain, is linked to a famous fountain whose waters possess curative properties for liver ailments and which the Romans named ‘Fons Divinus’, divine fountain. Its restorative properties were discovered during the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, the fountain has been reconstructed and is now in the Plaza de la Constitución in Fuente de Piedra.

Its locality is characterized by its straight streets and its whitewashed houses with balconies of forged metal, among which the most striking is the singular Palacio de la Marquesa.

The homes are examples of popular and rural vernacular architect (although restored) from the 18th century, with two floors and a patio. The church is in the neo-Mudéjar style, from 1981, with a square belltower where we find the image of Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes, patron saint of Fuente de Piedra.

The ringing of the flamingos who flock at the Laguna every year involves numerous participants who collaborate in this scientific activity. For the annual ringing exercise, the Council of the Environment organizes a group of 20 young Andalucían volunteers to give them the opportunity to understand in depth the values and functions of the surrounding wetlands.

Landscape

The Laguna de Fuente de Piedra constitutes at base level a shallow water surface with a natural drain system via an enclosed water basin, and a water area of some 15,350 hectares.

It can be defined as a wetland both endorreicoáá, with a closed water system, and estepáricoáá, in a hot steppe-like landscape, whose waters present a markedly saline character as a consequence of the evaporation of salt waters in the substrata. The level of the sheet of water in the lake can vary greatly by season and year due to fluctuations in rainfall. The waters of the lake collect by three methods: direct rainfall on the lake itself, run-off waters from nearby terrain, and infiltration into local aquifers being its unique means of discharging the evaporation.

The dynamic system of the lake is strongly linked to the hydrological cycle, which does not depend solely on its geography, except when considering water events of any particular year. In this way, the hydrological chacteristics of the lake determine the landscape across the year as much as the biology of the distinct vegetable and animal communities in the area. This natural temporality is a fundamental aspect of the dynamic of this wetland.

The exploitation of salt deposits in the lake began in the Roman epoch and continued until the 1950s. This industry is responsible for the presence of water management dikes here, vestiges of the conduits that would have drained off the water to aid sedimentation in the salt, dikes nowadays essential for the nesting habits of numerous aquatic birds.

The Laguna de Fuente de Piedra features certain characteristics that make it ideal for the installation of a breeding colony for the common flamingo, unique in the Iberian Peninsula. When conditions are favourable, the most important flamenco colony in the western Mediterranean quite literally flocks here.

Gastronomy

Just as in the other towns of the Málaga region, the meat products derived from the annual ‘matanza’, the traditional butchering of a pig or pigs, and cooked, homemade or by small food concerns, are the basics of the local gastronomy here, equal to other local staples such as migas, dishes with breadcrumbs as a base, and porra, a thick vegetable soup or stew, similar to gazpacho. In spring many of the beans such as asparagus are the base for various dishes.

Artisan culture

The production of artisan foodstuffs is the option for home-made baking, the most outstanding examples being mantecada, a bread or sweet roll made with lard, and olive oil, of deserved fame and quality, which is made in olive oil presses.

Situation

North-east of the province of Málaga. Area: 1,364 hectares. Average monthly temperatures: 16º-17ºC. Average annual rainfall: between 440 and 511 mm. Municipality: Fuente de Piedra.

Activites

Ornithology (birdwatching and hiking): Special routes have been laid out to enable flamingo watching from distances of approximately one kilometre.

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