Granadilla, Spain’s most impressive ghost town
In the north of Cáceres, Extremadura Spain a rural road leads to the most spectacular ghost town of Spain, Granadilla. Muslims founded Granadilla in the 9th century as a strategic site to dominate the Roman road of the Vía de la Plata. In 1160 Fernando II of León conquered Granadilla and repopulated the town with Christians, and after 1446 this walled city belonged to the Dukes of Alba, of the House of Toledo. However, since the original name was Granada, the town had to change its name in 1492 to avoid being confused with the last Muslim bastion of the Iberian Peninsula.
Granadilla (little Granada) remained the most important town of the area, until dictator Franco decided to build a reservoir in 1955 and expropriate these lands. Because of that, the citizens of Granadilla had to leave the town because it was predictably going to be flooded. Its last citizens left Granadilla in 1964, even though luckily the town was never actually flooded. Water surrounded the town and flooded all access roads but one, but that didn’t prevent looters to steal some historical and aristic pieces of Granadilla.
However, in 1980 the democratic government of Alfonso Suárez declared Granadilla a Conjunto Histórico (Historic grouping protected as national heritage). Since then, there have been several restoration works and student groups have come here to take part in educational activities and help in the restoration. Granadilla has recovered part of its lost charm with a touch of color, since several houses and the Plaza Mayor have been restored. The houses of the main street are now so colorful!
Back in the 15th century, Granadilla had the 12th century walls left by the Almohads that were later reconstructed after the Christian conquest. The 1st Duke of Alba García Álvarez de Toledo decided to built the magnificent Castle of Granadilla on top of the remains of the Muslim alcazaba in 1473. It’s undoubtedly the most outstanding building of Granadilla, and it’s a sleek building with symmetrical shapes and it’s built from stone masonry. Over a poly-lobed layout, formed by a rectangular layout with semi-circular towers attached, stands the tower which has four floors in total, amongst which we find the basement with well and dungeons, two floors for living in and an upper one used as an arms room.
It’s free to enter Granadilla, but as weird as it may sound for a ghost town, there are established opening times. The main street leads to the Plaza Mayor (main square), where you can find the former bar (if you visit it, it’s the amazing building with the columns) and the Casa de las Conchas (House of the Shells), the biggest house of Granadilla.
The Roman bridge of Cáparra isn’t located in Granadilla, but nearby, in the municipality of Guijo de Granadilla. The bridge was originally built in the 2nd century, although it has been modified several times throughout the centuries. This bridge served to cross the Alagón river and it was part of the Roman road known as Vía de la Plata.
However, like it happened in Granadilla, it was a victim of a reservoir and it was moved in the 80s nearby, supported on concrete structures. The Roman bridge is isolated and useless, and it perfectly represents the cost of having a reservoir. If you go to Granadilla and the nearby area, you can swim, fish or practice water sports in the Gabriel y Galán reservoir or do some birdwatching activities, because the natural environment of the area is amazing.
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Back Roads Spain
Back Roads Spain
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