The Arabs already knew the special nature of the area
The watermill El Molino Santisteban was build by the Arabs around 1400 on the bank of the river, El Río Grande. The hilly area around the Río Grande had already been inhabited since prehistory. The Burial mound in the nearby hills are proof of early settlement. The Phoenicians and Romans (between 1000BC and 400DC) settled here in the valley because of its secluded character and fertile grounds.
Because of the abundance of water from the nearby hills, Sierra de las Nieves and the river the Arabs build a watermill and ingenious little channels (acequias) that could irrigate the surrounding fields and operate the watermill. The farmers still use this system to irrigate their lands today. The three arches (arcos) of the watermill indicate that there used to be a high level of productivity and this watermill is the only one of this size in the province of Málaga. The watermill was dedicated to milling grain and cattle-fodder. The millstones (piedras) and one of the mill wheels are still present.
After 700 years of Arab presence in Andalucía, the Reyes Católicos took Málaga in 1485. In 1491 the watermill, already known by the name El Molino Santisteban, was confiscated and handed over to one of their loyal knights, Fernando Pérez. In the years that followed, the watermill stayed active and changed ownership several times. The family of the last miller still lives in the nearby village of Alozaina.
click the picture to enlarge
In the seventies the watermill was bought by an American, John Andersen, who renovated it, made it habitable and transformed the mill room into a dining room. The little channels and the original character of the mill remained. In 1980 he built a big guesthouse on the grounds around a patio and in the Andalucian style. This building is now in use as the hotel.