The Spanish village of Granadilla has been abandoned since 1969. In 1955 under the country’s then-dictator Francisco Franco, the area was declared a flood plain, as Spain underwent a huge dam-building project.
At the time, the village was almost a town with a 1,000 residents. However, less than 15 years after being designated a flooding area, the village was empty.
The nearby dam construction saw flood water rise all around the village, making it a striking peninsula. But as high as the water got, it never submerged the village.
And yet, despite not succumbing to the elements, the villagers forcibly removed in the 60s were never allowed to return to the place they called home.
The experience of being prised from their land was traumatic for local people, many of whom have lived in anger ever since.
The BBC reported Eugenio Jiménez, president of the Association Sons of Granadilla, calling the sorry episode a “travesty”.
He said: “They kicked us out, claiming that the dam would flood the town, which was impossible because the town is higher than the dam. But those were times of dictatorship, and we had no rights. But what truly frustrates me is that during democratic times, I’ve been struggling for the recovery of Granadilla with the former children’s association, and no government has listened to us.”
Today, Granadilla sees tens of thousands of tourists a year. In fact, 50 times as many people visit the peninsula every year than lived there decades ago.
British tourists have raved about the site, with one from Warrington taking to Tripadvisor to say: “This is an excellent site to visit. It is off the beaten track but well sign posted from the current village of the same name.
“It’s a village that was abandoned as it was to be flooded but then wasn’t and so was retained as an example of this type of Extremaduran village. It is free to enter with parking outside. It’s open in the morning and closes at 1.30pm then reopens later at 4pm . Through the gate you see streets of houses and a castle.”
He added: “You can wander round up to the main square and round to the church. There are some safety restrictions and it’s now used as an educational venue so when we went there were lots of students staying in the properties and you can’t enter those . They have a swimming pool and basketball court for students!
“The castle is amazing well worth the climb to the top to see the views across the countryside with the nearby lakes and hills in the distance from the large viewing platform.”