While doing research on the many things to see and explore in our area, I stumbled upon this blog talking about some fancy ruin out in the middle of nowhere. They seemed easy to get to, so without further deliberation we set off to see what we could find.
The ruin we hiked to this time is known as “El Cortijo del Alamillo”.
El Cortijo means “the farmhouse”. But when they say farmhouse, they mean grand country estate. A cortijo usually includes a large house for the landowner and his family, as well as lodging for the workers, and usually buildings used for storage, crop processing, stables etc.
And Alamillo is the diminutive of Alamo, which is the common name for what seems to be a cottonwood tree. That’ts right, The Alamo in San Antonio was named after a nearby tree, just the same as this cortijo.
The only source of information on this specific locations says that this is “the oldest of the Encomienda Calaltrava”. The Order of Calatrava was an group of knights who fought in the reconquista. They were given the area of Martos, along with many others, and charged with it’s protection and development. They are the people who built all the castles, churches and bridges in our area, and apparently some farmhouses. However, the order was stripped of it’s properties in the late 1870’s. This means that IF the cortijo belonged to the order of Calatrava, it must have been built before the 1870s.
Also, our best guess as to what it used to produce is… of course, olive oil.
Getting there was easy. It is 4.5 miles outside of Martos, and we were able to follow a well paved road all the way there. If you live ever find yourself wanting to take this hike, just plug these into Google Maps, 37°39’46.0″N 3°59’47.0″W, and follow the directions.
These are three rooms in a connected building that have something to do with olive oil production. Someone else said that the vats in the first photo would have held olives, before they were processed. The second picture had a circular platform that would have held a kind of mill stone. This room also had white tile on the floor, baseboards, and inside a small hole that led into the basement. Our guess is that they would mill the olives, and push the oil into the hole in the corner to fill up the basement vats that you see in the third picture
The courtyard still has some kind of yucca plant growing in a neat rows, and there is still a palm tree living off to the side of the house. It was obviously owned by well-to-do people, and it was obviously taken good care of while it was inhabited.
Today, it is a crumbling wreck. We could have taken the stairs up to the second and third stories, but there were visible cracks in the stairway, not to mention countless holes in the ceilings. We played it safe, and stuck to the ground floor.
Since getting the entire building in one photo would be impossible, I will include a video that someone made with a drone. Strangely enough, the big home, processing rooms, and storage vats are all compacted into the same compound. They obviously could have built outwards, but I am guessing they either wanted to maximize their olive grove space, or they just didn’t want to spend any unnecessary time in the hellish heat.
Just like the spa, it was a neat piece of local history to explore.