IN PICS: The sleepy Spanish town where nothing is quite as it seems

The sleepy village of Romangordo in Extremadura has been transformed thanks to a team of artists and now visitors find that nothing is quite as it seems.

IN PICS: The sleepy Spanish town where nothing is quite as it seems
Walls throughout the village are painted with trompe l'oeils scenes. Photo:

Since August 2016, the small village of Romangordo in Caceres province has been slowly transforming its streets into an open air museum. 







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The project started with a single donkey, painted in a corner near the main square that was “a little ugly” and needed to be redone.

Now, 100 trompe l’oeils can be found adorning walls around the village. 

Watch the video tour through the town:


“We wanted to tell Romangordo’s story,” Isabel Martín, who works at Romangordo’s tourism office, told The Local in a telephone interview. “And we wanted to decorate the streets, make them a bit more colorful.”


The paintings represent scenes from the village’s past, as well as its present: bakers making bread, women carrying buckets of washing, old-fashioned cars, people arriving and leaving.

Several artists have participated in the project: Álvaro Quintana, a native Romangordeño who studies art in Madrid brought several of his friends from art school. Artists from around Extremadura have also participated, including Chefo Bravo, Jonatan Carranza Sojo, and Jesús Mateos Brea.







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Romangordo is near Monfragüe National Park, and the murals are an environmentally-friendly way to attract visitors, Martín said.

“We didn’t have to make a big investment or damage what we have in order to do it,” she added. “It’s a sustainable way to attract tourism.” 






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The paintings have given the 250-person village a huge boost in tourism. “In 2019 we had almost triple the visits we had in 2018,” Martín says, nearly 46,000 visitors.

“And that’s just the people who came and registered at the tourism office.”






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By Sam Harrison in Barcelona


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Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.