Medieval Spanish ghost town becomes self-sufficient ecovillage

It’s a utopian fantasy- discover a ghost town and rebuild it in line with your ideals-, but in Spain where there are nearly 3000 abandoned villages (most dating back to the Middle Ages), some big dreamers have spent the past 3 decades doing just that.

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  1. Fifty or sixty years ago, residents of small rural Spanish towns abandoned their centuries-old villages in search of a new type of life in the city. For years, the couple thousand ghost towns of mostly Northern Spain lay empty, but in the early eighties, the migration happened in reverse. Residents of cities began to move back to these abandoned towns to start a new, slower, simpler life.

    The medieval town of Ibort- 75 miles north of Zaragoza- was “rediscovered” in 1986 when a group of friends, tired of city life, arrived here to start living a slower life in the country.

    “When they came here, it was to try to return to a type of life closer to nature, closer to certain values that were disappearing from this urban world,” explains Ibort resident Ricardo.

    They began rebuilding the homes in keeping with the traditional stone style, most often with labor-intensive slate roofs included. The new villagers had little homebuilding experience, but everyone had to build- or rebuild- their own home.

    “I think it’s one of the most beautiful things a person can make, “his house,” explains Ricardo. “In the past nearly everyone had to do it, to live in a home you built, it’s a different experience”.

    Today, Ibort is home to about 60 people. There is still rebuilding going on and there is still space to learn from the past. “Our modern world so accelerated, so much rushing around,” says Ricardo. “I think it’s necessary to stop a bit this race to who knows where.”

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