Published April 21, 2014
Zero euros, he says.
All you need to own these 15,000 square meters in northwestern Spain is a good project to give back to this tiny hamlet, A Barca, the dignity it once had.
Once, six centuries ago, A Barca (“Small Boat” in Galician) was part of the royal road to Castille, and later served as a transportation hub for people, animals and goods across the Miño river.
Avelino de Francisco, mayor of the municipality that oversees A Barca, said he wants to give away the hamlet to anyone willing to restore the town. De Francisco says he is still looking for the right owner – the thousand-plus proposals made since March haven’t been serious enough projects.
The one that comes closest, according to El País, is a British company that wants to turn A Barca in a rehab center for people suffering from cardiovascular disease.
“[For] the person who comes here, the goal is to come and relax, there is no stress here...” the mayor told BBC News. “We have hot springs, areas of rivers, mountains, we have wonderful hiking areas,” he added while touring the place on a televised interview.
He explained that the villagers were forced to leave A Barca in the late 1950s, during Francisco Franco’s regime, to give way to a huge dam project. But even then just a bunch of houses remained, because by the 1920s the transportation business from one side of the river to the other had collapsed due to the construction of a bridge nearby.
Today, amid overgrown vegetation, 12 houses remain, which whoever takes over will have to preserve. Another requirement for the development plan, Mayor De Francisco said, is to provide employment for people in the community.
According to official records, there are nearly 3,000 other empty villages in rural Spain, and more than half are in Galicia. According to The Independent, up to three million people left the region between the turn of the last century and the 1970s seeking a better life.
“It would be nice to see my town finally turns into something respectable,” said Otilo Rodríguez, who grew up in of those homes. “I would be really proud if my kids can see where their father was born, see that it is something now.”