Pou de glaç

144 EL CATLLAR 05022011

The majority of icehouses found in our country are in places of altitude where the winters are colder and more intense; however, the ice house in El Catllar is situated just 50 meters above sea level and very close to the coast. This presented great difficulty for the conservation of the ice and is probably the reason why it fell into disuse around the middle of the 19th century.
It was built on the north side of the outer walls of the castle in 1687, according to an existing contract. It was excavated in the bedrock and covered by a dome-shaped stone roof. Originally it had a height of 9 meters and was just over 8 meters in diameter, although the floor level was later lowered to 11.5 meters to permit entry from the rear of the construction.
The ice house was used to store snow or ice, which kept drinks cool, above all water and wine; and at the same time for medicinal purposes – lowering temperatures, as an anti-inflammatory and as a painkiller.
Snow was obtained from the mountains inland or from other icehouses in the vicinity such as el Pla de Santa Maria, Ramonet, Cabra, Vilaverd or Rojals. The snow was compacted to form ice, and if the climatological conditions were suitable, in winter, ice was obtained from nearby pools which was then shaped into blocks and stored. The blocks of ice were deposited between layers of straw and twigs to prevent them from sticking, which allowed the ice to be kept for months.
In El Catllar, the sale of ice was the monopoly of the village. From documented evidence, we know that the operation was generally linked to the leasing of the tavern and the sale price was established according to the origin of the ice and therefore the cost of obtaining it. What preserved leasing contracts reveal is that before the construction of the icehouse, the tavern was already responsible for the sale of ice, although we do not know where the snow came from or how it was conserved.