Molino de los Frailes o del Cura

  • Physical accessibility
  • Pets allowed
  • Suitable for children
  • Historical heritage

A mill that is still alive

Like a bastion, it stands on the right bank of the Manzanares River, grinding cereal, manufacturing paper or just being a beautiful residence, changing with the times.

Molino de los Frailes o del Cura

The Friars’ Mill, also known as the Priest’s Mill, is one of the seven flour mills that served inhabitants of Manzanares El Real and surrounding villages. But its current importance lies in the fact that it is the only one that is still standing, against all odds.

As the mill had two buckets, it was possible to grind grain in one of them and use the other as a forge seasonally. This versatility enabled it to work until the 1960s.

Despite the fact that the building was never related to the church, it was named after the cross atop its roof.

From miller to residence

It is a private dwelling today and thanks to all the changes and adaptations it has undergone it is still standing and has not disappeared.

On the right bank of the Manzanares River, and downstream from the Hermitage of the Peña Sacra, we find the Molino de los Frailes (Friars’ Mill), also called Molino del Cura (Priest’s Mill). As a traditional flour mill, it used the river’s waterpower to turn the millstones and grind the grain into flour.

The oldest reference to it dates back to 1724, in the lawsuit between the Villa de Madrid and the Duke of the Infantado over the use of the waters of the Manzanares River. It is also described in The Ensenada Cadastre:

‘It was preceded by a 150 feet high ashlar dam, two buckets on either side as a fortress (...). The dam has 15 feet of uncovered ashlar masonry with wooden casings that, in the form of steps, make a cascade or cliff and a large wall that supports the masonry channel or millrace, slabs and ashlar paving stones 10 feet high.’

Molino de los Frailes - acordeón 1

The remains of one of the dam buckets and the millrace, which supplies water to the installation, are still preserved. Before entering the mill, this channel is divided into two forks, reaching two pressure wells or buckets which, by pressure, increase the water force in its lower exit. The water turns a turbine or great spur wheel that moves a vertical shaft on which the grinding wheels are anchored.

As it had two buckets, while one of the wheels was used to grind cereal, the other was used, at times, as a forge to work with iron. The two outflow arches which returned the water back to the river, can still be seen.

On the roof of the mill there is a cross on a small granite pillar that has led to nickname it as “Friars’s” or “Priest’s”, although the mill has never been connected to the church.

Molino de los Frailes - acordeón 2

In the 19th century, this mill was incorporated into the paper mill created in 1837 and was dedicated to crush rags to make paper pulp, although it continued to grind cereals. The large building attached to the mill, whose access staircase reused fragments of grinding stones as steps, had up to four mills in operation to shred rags.

At the beginning of the 20th century, almost all mills on the upper river basin ceased to operate when a modern flour factory was created in Colmenar Viejo, promoted by the Sociedad Hidráulica Santillana (Santillana Hydraulic Corporation), the builder of the reservoir.

Even so, the Molino de los Frailes kept its flour-milling activity with at least one of its buckets until after the Civil War.

Molino de los Frailes - acordeón 3

In pictures

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