by Diambra Mariani and Francesco Mion

About 3,000 villages in Spain have no inhabitants. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), over a hundred of them are in Catalonia. The 50’s experienced a boom of rural abandonment increasing the number of uninhabited villages.

Most of them are in the north of Spain (Galicia and Asturias), while in Catalonia there are 114 (122, according to IDESC AT). 18% of the municipalities with less than 200 people have been losing population since 1998.

In the last few years dozens of abandoned villages have been repopulated thanks to the efforts of different people, mostly related to rural tourism and organic farming, but also to touristic industry. The number of these kinds of projects increases in times of crisis, according to Rafael Canales, web manager of the website ‘Abandoned Villages’.

The reason for this new interest of living in small villages is directly related to the fall of real estate prices in combination with the possibility to work online from home. The proliferation of this phenomenon is also related to the new trend that involves a less consumerist lifestyle and a new-found need to live in contact with nature, away from the pollution of cities.


– Eco aldea de Pano (Huesca): an abandoned village close to a Buddhist Center, which has been repopulated thanks to the effort of a Swiss architect, Kurt Fridez;

– El Fonoll (Conca de Barberà): an abandoned village that was repopulated by Emili Vives, who transformed it in a naturist and nudist dorp;

– Liguerre de Cinca (Huesca): The village was abandoned due to the construction of the dam of El Grado, but in 1986 it was restored by the UGT union as a resort;

– Marmellar (Baix Penedés): an abandoned village uninhabited since the end of the Civil War;

 – Matavenero (Leòn): an international eco-village which was repopulated by the Rainbows Families in 1989;

– Janovas, S. Olaria etc (Rio Aro, Huesca) : villages that were expropriated during the fifties as a result of the project of the constructon of a dam – that was never done.

– Sabella (Conca de Barberà): an abandoned village close to El Fonoll;

– Solanell (Pallars Sobirà): it was abandoned in 1975, and then bought by a young architect who’s now trying to restore it. At the moment, three people are living there;