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The Aljub in Santanyí and the Ancient Art of Water Storage

The aljub is Santanyí is a particularly fine example of an old water cistern from the Maurish period. The word aljub is of Arab origin (al-yûbb) and means ‘well’ or ‘pit’. In Mallorca, one can find a few dozen of those aljub constructions. Some of them are of a few hundred years of age, with a handful of them dating back to the late 13th century. Apart from Santanyí (photo top), you can find aljubs still in use in Llucmajor, Santa Eugènia, Son Real, Planícia, Alfabia and Pollença. The oldest ones can be found at the Castell de Santueri, near Felanitx, the Castell d’Alaró (photo bottom), Costitx and Palma (Baluard de Sant Pere). When an aljub was not a well, it was a reservoir or cistern for collecting and storing water after the rain. The interior construction of aljubs is often quite intricate and complex, sometimes being divided into various compartments. Externally, we can often find picas (basins) to allow passing animals to drink.

Traditional aljubs in Mallorca may be called s’Aljub, es Aljubs, es Aljubets, s’Aljub Blanc, s’Aljub Vermell, s’Aljub Llarg, s’Aljub Gran, s’Aljub Vell or Aljub des Cristians. There may be one near where you live. Have a closer look next time you pass one on your way. You may well find the ancient art of water storage as fascinating as I do.

The photo (top) was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 8th, 2012. The time was 16:38:10. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of ealonso1.blogspot.com and Emilio Alonso Sarmiento.

Muchas gracias.

2 replies »

  1. There is a fantastic set of aljubs in the woods behind Real Bendinat Golf Club, there is also an aqueduct. They are fairly accessible, but only on foot. I don’t know when they date from, or if they are still in use, but two of them contain crystal clear water.

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