€2m price tag for ‘ghost village’ spooks buyers

Attempts to sell off an abandoned Catalan village next to a reservoir which dates back to the times of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco have proved a damp squib, with absolutely no bids coming in.

€2m price tag for 'ghost village' spooks buyers
The old church at Sant Romà de Sau in central Catalonia. Photo: Josep Enric/Flickr

Originally built in 1962 to house workers employed in the construction of the Sau reservoir in central Catalonia, Sant Romà de Sau now lies empty. The village is set to remain abandoned after the newspaper La Razón reported that an attempt to auction the ruins have fallen flat.

Put up for sale in July by the Catalan Water Authority with a starting price of €2 million ($2.5 million), not one bid was received before the closing date.

No new residents will therefore be moving in to the village overlooking the reservoir, where the bell tower of the old village of Sant Romà de Sau still emerges periodically above the surface of the water in times of drought. The Sau reservoir is one of hundreds built during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco from 1939 to 1975.

There are an estimated 2,900 abandoned towns and villages across Spain. Sometimes those willing to revive them are allowed to move in for free; other times local authorities or other owners try to sell the land.

The mayor of a village in the province of Cuenca recently announced the sale of plots of land to build houses on for as little as €200, in an attempt to attract younger people to assure the town’s future.    

In the case of Sant Romà de Sau, which comprises 20 or so buildings, an old Civil Guard barracks, a church and a cemetery, the Catalan Water Authority has said it will organize a new bidding process in the hope of finding a buyer.  

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