An Islamic fountain used to water the surrounding fields and as a watering place for livestock. It is a rare example of Alanís’ Muslim past. The fountain is structured like an “alquería”, or rural farmhouses that existed in Alanís during the Muslim period. Rather than a town or a village, it was similar to a “cortijo”. Several buildings were arranged in a cluster for farming purposes and to protect the surrounding lands. It is a clear example of Environmental Heritage: a combination of nature (spring) and humankind (construction) at work. In short, it is the sum of Natural and Cultural Heritage, i.e. Environmental Heritage.
There is a legend that is both a tangible and intangible heritage asset. It is not only a physical testimony of Alanis’ Islamic culture but also a popular legend, known as “El Encanto de la Pilitas”, that has an intangible, immaterial form.
The legend is about Ascia, the daughter of a Moorish man who forcibly converted to Christianity. Ascia sincerely embraces the Christian faith and adopts the name of Ana Maria. She also falls in love with a Christian, the son of the castle warden. Her father wants to rid his daughter of her Christian thoughts. So, he resolves to marry her to an African man who comes to Alanis in search of her. Ascia decides to meet her Christian lover on midsummer’s night at the Pilitas Fountain to tell him the terrible news. The African man surprises them and shoots the Christian man dead, while Ascia runs away stumbling and falling into the Pilitas. Her body was never found. Legend has it that, since then, Ascia appears at the fountain on midsummer’s night mourning her loss.
A theatre group performs a dramatised version of this legend at the Shrine to San Juan on 24 June.