Snow Wells

Two of the most significant Snow Wells in Sierra Espuña have been restored as part of a wider effort to conserve their rich cultural legacy for future generations. The project was led by Ecoproyecta, and supported by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Region of Murcia, the General Directorate of Natural Environment and the Association of Sierra Espuña municipalities.

Snow Wells, Sierra Espuña, SPAIN

Dating back to the 16th century, these wells served as ice factories, storing winter snow for summer ice production. Despite falling into disrepair with the advent of modern refrigeration, the domes remained deeply significant to the local community and the landscape of Sierra Espuña, with many local families having ancestors who once worked there.

In 2019, the Master Plan for the Snow Wells of Sierra Espuña was finalised. This effort resulted in the official designation of the wells as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), the highest recognition in Spain. This designation also includes preserving the surrounding areas where snow was collected (rasos), protecting visual landscapes with panoramic well views, and conserving related structures, like houses, a chapel, an ancient orchard, and a natural spring.

Snow Wells, Sierra Espuña, SPAIN

Among the urgent tasks outlined in the Master Plan was restoring Wells Number 11 and 13, selected due to their uniqueness, accessibility, and state of preservation. Well Number 11 featured a mixed construction dome (stone and brick), while Well Number 13 showcased a stone masonry dome constructed through layering. This resulted in distinct dome shapes, one resembling a hemisphere and the other a cone. Despite significant damage and the loss of their domes, these wells still had enough structural integrity and historical data for restoration.

The primary goal was the comprehensive restoration of these two wells, aiming to reinstate their original architectural forms. This included the use of traditional construction techniques and materials: stone and brick masonry, complemented by lime mortar.

The project has not restored the original function, which would now be impossible due to the effects of climate change, but rather offers visitors a chance to explore these unique structures and learn about the historical ice trade. New access elements were introduced, including an observation deck and staircase in Well 11, as well as a walkway spanning the void in Well 13. These elements, crafted from wood, deliberately contrast with the original materials.


The excellent restoration project of two Snow Wells in Sierra Espuña stems from a well-defined and scientific study on a very particular phenomenon in a remote place. It underscores the importance of vernacular heritage and the use of vernacular skills that are at risk of loss, all while perfectly integrating new designs which do not alter the interior of the structures”, the Awards’ Jury said.

Significant efforts have been made to educate about the historic function of these wells while saving them from total disappearance. This is also important in the context of climate change, as it demonstrates solutions for challenges surrounding water access in this region”, the Jury emphasised.

Contact: Pablo Carbonell, Ecoproyecta | |