Fuente de los Cien Caños

Nacimiento del Río Guadalhorce

Useful Information

Location: El Cortijuelo, 1, 29313 Villanueva del Trabuco, Málaga.
A-92M exit 7 Villanueva del Trabuco, A-7203 to Villanueva del Trabuco, right befor the town turn left on MA-4100 towards Zaffaraya. Signposted.
(37.030147, -4.279933)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Fuente de los Cien Caños, El Cortijuelo, 1, 29313 Villanueva del Trabuco, Málaga, Tel: +34-656-44-72-89.
City Hall of Villanueva del Trabuco, Plaza del Prado, 1, CP:29313 Villanueva del Trabuco (Malaga), Tel: +34-952751021, Fax: +34-952751969. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1985 spring encased in its current shape.
30-DEC-2011 Monumento Natural Fuente de los Cien Caños-Nacimiento del Río Guadalhorce created by decree.


The Fuente de los Cien Caños (Fountain of the Hundred Pipes) is the artificial casement of a karst spring, covered by a wall with 100 iron pipes which allow the people to collect the water with buckets or pots. Actually there are not exactly 100 pipes, it's just a metaphor for many, but it sounds quite good, especially in Spanish. Some jokers claim that there are actually 101 pipes. The "technical" name of the spring is Nacimiento del Río Guadalhorce (Spring of the Guadalhorce River). Located at foot of the cliff, it is wedged between the road and the limestone wall. It's actually a dam with pipes about 20 cm below the rim, and if the yield is lower than a certain threshold all the water flows through the pipes. If it increases, it rises behind the dam and at some point flows over the crown. The pipes were installed to connect irrigation systems in 1984.

Being a seasonal karst spring it actually depends on the time of year how spectacular the spring is. The Mediterranen climate means rains during winter and dry during summer, so the spring is quite spectacular at the end of the winter, but may become completely dry during summer. The spring is protected by the small Monumento Natural Fuente de los Cien Caños-Nacimiento del Río Guadalhorce which extend to the east and south from the spring. It was created in 2011.

The site is quite strange from the geographical viewpoint: the spring of the Río Guadalhorce produces a tributary of the Río Guadalhorce. It flows into Río Guadalhorce about 450 m to the north. The river begins according to maps about 7 km to the east in a dry valley. And that's the key to understanding this karst feature, the former riverbed is now dry because drainage is now underground. The upper part of the river is reactivated only after very heavy rains, when the underground drainage is not sufficient. The development from a river flowing on the surface to a seasonal river, then to a sporadically reactivated river, and finally to a dry valley which looks like a river valley but without the river, is quite characteristic for karst development.

During the osman occupation in the Middle Ages the spring was known as Wad-al-Horce (Wheat Spring), because its water was used to irrigate wheat fields along the river banks. The native flora along the river differs from the surroundings, fig trees, willows, poplars, and ash trees. The fauna includes various kinds of amphibians and reptiles. The city Villanueva del Trabuco was founded by King Carlos III because of its agricultural properties, and he convinced about 6,000 German and Flemish Catholic settlers. Fleeing from their country because of religious differences, they are responsible for the towns which begin with Villanueva (New Village).

The spring is located in the Sierra de San Jorge, at the eastern end of the Sierra de Camarolos, a part of limestone mountains running through the province of Malaga from west to east. It is called the Arco Calizo Central Malagueño (Central Malaga Limestone Arc). The varied landscape has typical Mediterranean vegetation: olive trees, pines, oaks, shrubs and scrubland. The site is quite popular and so the municipality create a huge parking lot with picknick area on the other side of the road. The site is signposted with brown signs and not very interesting in late summe, when it is both crowded and dry. We suggest to visit in spring or early summer. The Ruta Geológica Complejo Alta Cadena (Alta Cadena Complex Geological Trail) connects numerous karst leated sights, like dolines, lapies or karren, karst depressions, swallow holes, and karst springs.