A River of Gold…The Fuente Agria in Alpujarras

By Abi King | Europe

Apr 06

River of Gold And Iron with Green Leaf at the Fuente Agria in Spain


Balancing on the wet rock, I watch the river of gold run past. I’m high in the Alpujarras Mountains, a part of Andalucia that snuck beneath the radar, hauled itself to snowy heights and escaped the sun, sea and sand stereotypes of the coast. At road level behind me, someone sells “herbal remedies” of varying degrees of legality, while a lady with plaited silver hair trades glass earrings that look like gemstones.

Iron Waterfall - Alpujarras AndaluciaI needed a local to help me find this place, down a flight of rocky steps and into a leafy gathering.

A soft waterfall spatters onto stone to form this ankle-deep river of gold.

It’s not actually gold, of course. It comes from the Fuente Agria, which translates both in words and deeds to mean sour source. This flaming metal isn’t gold, but iron.

Yet when the phrase “river of iron” ran through my mind, I thought of railway tracks and grid-like precision. Of inner city pollution and industrial constraints, not wild and natural beauty.

These deposits blaze so much more than that. So I hope you’ll forgive the artistic license and simply enjoy this river of iron.

Ankle deep river of iron among flag stones in Spain

Flowing Iron Water in Alpujarras - from a metal pipe with bricks as a background

Ceramic blue and white tile demonstrating the Fuente Agria in Alpujarras

Stream of Iron in the Alpujarras Mountains - A Green Leaf Floating On Rust Orange


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com

Annie Bennett April 7, 2011

Hi Abi! It’s an extraordinary sight, isn’t it? Did you taste it? Not bad when all the muddy iron has settled to the bottom. But my favourite water in the Alpujarras is from a pipe on the path just outside the village of Ferreirola – which comes out fizzy and is also full of iron and god knows what other minerals. I just know that drinking it gives me an amazing buzz – a real natural high!

Amazing all the awesome places that exist that most people are unaware of. Gorgeous photos, makes me want to see it.

Abi King April 8, 2011

Hi Annie – Yes I did taste it and I can’t say that I was a fan! I didn’t let anything settle, though, which is perhaps where I went wrong…reminded me of the taste when I cut my mouth.
I’ll have to try the Ferreirola water instead the next time I head up that way.

@LB – Glad you like the post

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