Spanish ‘ghost village’ re-emerges after 30 years underwater

The ‘ghost village’ of Aceredo was flooded to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir in 1992
The ‘ghost village’ of Aceredo was flooded to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir in 1992 Copyright AFP
By Ben Anthony Horton with Reuters Connect
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The village of Aceredo has been underwater for the past three decades. But after Spain’s driest winter on record, an eerie tourist destination has emerged from a desolate reservoir.

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There are not many silver linings when it comes to climate change - least of all in the travel and tourism sector, where industry bosses anticipate a decline in foreign travel as temperatures soar.

But in Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, a severe drought linked to the climate crisis has brought to light a buried tourist hotspot - drawing in visitors from far and wide.

The ‘ghost village’ of Aceredo was flooded to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir in 1992. But after 30 years underwater, its eerie ruins are accessible once more after dam levels shrunk to just 15 per cent of their overall capacity.

"It's as if I'm watching a movie," says 65-year-old pensioner Maximino Perez Romero from A Coruna, who once lived in the village.

"I have a feeling of sadness. I worry that this is what will happen over the years due to drought and climate change."

A sunken village

AFP
The resurrection of Aceredo follows the hottest January on record in SpainAFP

The resurrection of Aceredo follows the hottest January on record in Spain, with average daily temperatures over two degrees Celsius warmer than in previous years.

It’s also the country’s fifth driest winter on record, with rainfall at just one third of the seasonal average.

This is clear to see for those who visit the remains of Aceredo - a barren village situated on the cracked mud flats of the drained Alto Lindoso reservoir.

Partially collapsed roofs, wooden debris and abandoned cars are spread throughout the town, creating a chilling image of what life was once like in this forgotten place.

Jose Alvarez, a former construction worker from Lobios, feels nostalgia as he recalls his working days in Aceredo.

"Back in the day I used to come and work here on foot, bringing a chorizo with me if there was one,” he says.

“I would work in the village as a construction worker and to see it now compared to then, it's terrible, but it is what it is. That's life. Some die and others live.”

Finding hope in the ruins

AFP
During the coronavirus pandemic, Spain lost as much as 110 billion euros in revenue from the travel sectorAFP

For others in the community, the re-emergence of Aceredo provides a welcome boost to Spain’s hard-pressed tourism industry.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the country lost as much as 110 billion euros in revenue from the travel sector. Over 800,000 people lost their jobs as a result.

"Tourists are welcome as long as people act responsibly,” says Maria Del Carmen Yanez, the mayor of Concello De Lobios, the area’s governing body.

“It’s nostalgic for them to see the home of a family member, their own or of someone they know re-emerge."

AFP
Spain’s reservoirs are at an average fullness of just 44 per cent after a period of severe droughtAFP

And for those not familiar with the area, the novelty of walking around an underwater village is still enough to attract them to the ruins.

"It's impressive to see it like this,” says Yesica, a tourist visiting from Vigo.

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“It’s rare to be able to enjoy this scene and this is why we came, to take pictures and to have the image of what life was like here."

Questions now remain about how long Spain’s drought will last for - and for how long the ghost village of Aceredo will remain above water.

For the time being, Spain’s reservoirs are at an average fullness of just 44 per cent - well below the average of 61 per cent recorded over the last decade.

And with droughts becoming increasingly common throughout Europe, experts predict that this may not be the last time the village of Aceredo rears its head from the Alto Lindoso reservoir.

Watch the video above to see the ghost village for yourself.

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Video editor • Ben Anthony Horton

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