The El Pino district

The El Pino district

From rise to ruin, rising again 

Unlimited sunlight dazzles the eye, blurring the line of the horizon. The silhouettes of chimneys and their smoke hats tremble the waves of heat. In this high valley of Spain’s Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha, the town of Puertollano has long stimulated the imagination and continues to attract visionaries. It was here that Don Quixote (in spite of his faithful Sancho Panza) tilted at windmills. Indeed, there is something strange about this place. First, its name: from “puerto” and “llano,” although this town has no port and is not in the middle of a plain but set in rather mountainous terrain. It’s not for nothing that Puertollano is also called “City of Two Lies.”

It is a small town in a region that was for centuries a noman’s land—located between Christian Spain in the north and the Moorish caliphate in the south. After the Reconquista, it was settled by people from the north at the encouragement of the Spanish crown, only to be devastated 100 years later by the Black Death that left only 13 survivors. How did Puertollano survive to become a center of coal mining and petrochemicals, then endure through the collapse of those industries to emerge, less than a decade, as an internationally recognized technology hub for renewable energy and, as of this year, home of the largest photovoltaic plant in the world? Paradox, indeed.


View from Puertollano from the monument El Minero (The Miner)


A History Marked by Energy

Wedged between two mountains, Puertollano nestles in the pass between two valleys. The city would never have existed if it had not been synonymous with power, in both senses of the word. Its development over two centuries has been built on the exploitation of new energy sources. At the entrance to the city via the road from Madrid stands a metal tower once used for coal mining, a symbol of the past. A bit farther, on the top of a hill overlooking the city, a black silhouette stands guard: a bronze sculpture in neorealist style that was erected in 1983 through...

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