Fuente de Piedra- the town, the lagoon and the beauty of the pink flamingo

Fuente de Piedra is a village in the Málaga region of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 19 kilometers from Antequera and 73 km from the provincial capital of Málaga.

The small town is based in a dry basin amongst the Southern Spanish mountains. The village itself is typically Andaluz with its whitewashed houses with wrought iron protecting the balconies. As well as a few impressive houses built for noblemen of the past, there is also the palace of the Marques of Fuente de Piedra, which dates back to the 19th century and is built in the neoclassic style.

There is only one church – that of the “Virgen de las Virtudes” – the patron saint of the village. It was built in 1891 in the neo-mudéjar style and has an interesting main façade, with a rather gothic like stained glass window over the main entrance. The village is most well known for the local Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, home to one of the largest populations of flamingoes in Europe. This is represented in the town by the summer celebration of the festival of ringing the Flamingo.

Fuente de Piedra Lagoon is a wetland situated outsideof the town. It is used by the pink flamingo for its annual reproduction cycle, constituting the largest colony on the Iberian Peninsulaof this beautiful and delicate bird. The lagoon is fed by underwater springs that pass through mineral salt deposits, so the lagoon is saline indeed salt was havested until recently. The lagoon covers an area of 13 square kilometres, it is elliptical in shape, its major axis is 6.8km and the minor one is 2.5km. However it is very shallow, in a good year it is less than 1m deep at its deepest point. Evaporation is a major factor for the lagoon. The Flamingos need a certain amount of water to breed and will desert the eggs if the lagoon dries out too soon. 2009 was a good year for the Flamingos just over 5000 young fledged. 600 of these were ringed.

Due to the presence of the lake, it seems that man has been in this area since prehistoric times. Later, commercial links were maintained with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. During Roman times, the lake was named “Fons Divinus” or divine spring, due to the medicinal properties of the water. In 1461 Rodrigo Ponce de León of Marchena took possession of the area, overthrowing the Moors. A prosperous time followed, until the beginning of the 19th century, when continued drought caused a fall in the population. Now, in modern times, it is once again a thriving town in exceptionally beautiful natural surroundings.

THE DONKEY SANCTUARY

While in Fuente de Piedra, it is well worth visiting the Donkey Sanctuary, where nearly 50 donkeys from all over the world have been saved and are being well looked after.

From miniature to giant donkeys, here size really doesn’t matter. In Spanish it is called “El Refugio del Burrito‘ and is easy to find by turning off at the Hotel Conde de la Laguna until the end of the track. Open to visitors 7 days a week.

Tel: 952 735 513
www.elrefugiodelburrito.com

VILLAGE FIESTAS

If you like to see traditional village fiestas, there are various celebrations throughout the year:

Cabalgata

January 6th. The ‘Cabalgata’ when the Three Kings go through the streets on decorated floats, giving out sweets to the children for Christmas.

Carnival

February 1st and 2nd is Carnival time in the village.

 Day of Andalucia

February 28th is the Day of Andalucia. Shops shut and the village celebrates.

 Romería

The second Sunday in May is the day when the people of the village have a huge celebration picnic in the country – the‘Romería’in honour of the patron saint, the Virgen de Las Virtudes.

 Feria de Santiago

July 25th and for some days after, is the Feria de Santiago – the Santiago Fair.

 Virgen de las Virtudes

September 7th and 8th sees the village fair in the name of the patron saint, the Virgen de las Virtudes. There are horse races, fireworks and a very interesting array of traditional outfits worn to celebrate this annual event.

 There are five or six small local bars and restaurants, where you can sample traditional dishes, such as gazpacho, rabbit in garlic or chickpea stew.

 It is worth a day of your holiday to explore this lovely area.