“La Playa”, a beautiful example of Elizabethan plumbing

Had you ever seen such a beautiful old fountain? And did you know that a little piece of Portugal can be found inside it? In fact, the fountain that you are looking at right now is made of marble brought from Estremoz, which gives it its beautiful characteristic colour.

This fountain dates from the 19th century and it was built with marble brought from Portugal in pieces. Traditionally, it is said that it was paid for by the Marquess of Labrador, a native of Valencia de Alcántara, and it is popularly known as “la Playa” (the Beach).

It may seem like something small now, but during the 19th century this fountain was very important for bringing water to the entire population. Now, the water from the aqueduct goes through the walls to reach the centre of the town and this fountain, which was built especially for this purpose. Imagine how busy it must have been all day, given that it was located in one of the town’s main squares, a convenient place for everyone to come and collect their water whenever they needed it.

The stories that this fountain must have heard! If stones could speak…

These days, the purpose of this Marble fountain is merely decorative and it is part of the town’s history but, during the 19th century, it was used to supply the entire city with water channelled from outside.

It is important to emphasize that this work was not as easy as it might first appear, given that the town is at an elevation of 400 meters. Also, although it is hard to believe, the fountain was restored for the first time in February 1994 thanks to some refurbishment and improvement works that were carried out on the square.

Did you know that…

  • In Estremoz, there is an identical fountain called “Fonte das Bicas”.

  • The Plaza de Gregorio Bravo square is known as “La Playa” (The Beach) because of the unevenness and scruffiness of the ground there in the past.
  • Before the construction of the fountain and the square where you are right now, this area used to be the orchard of the Nun’s Convent.