Wednesday, 30 October 2019

An echo from the past- abandoned village in sierra setting

About half way in between Caceres and Plasencia is the busy village of Cañaveral, the edges of the village soon segue into countryside and a winding camino climbs high into the sierra, with each bend the views get more and more extensive and very contrasting. At one point there is a birds eye view of the new AVE train track sweeping across the land, another few bends and there is a far view of the Alcantara lakes.
Finally the track runs out at the entrance to the ancient settlement of Villa del Arco with a backdrop of the dramatic crags of the Sierra del Arco.
There are no constant inhabitants of the village, they all moved out around 20 years ago to seek more profitable employment than the traditional agricultural work of sheep and goat herding, cheese making etc. However, the houses are well preserved and maintained, the owners and family coming back sometimes throughout the year, especially for the summer fiestas which revolve around the charming church of  La virgen de la Asunción.

The most wonderful aspect of the village is the gushing water, fuentes are fed from the abundant springs of the mountain. There are large ponds built to collect the water and channel it into the village where it runs in channels through the cobbled streets, the delightful aroma of mint explodes at every step as it grows exuberantly between the cobbles. Walled gardens are luxuriant with pomegranates, lemons and oranges spilling into the streets.  There is a small plaza with the remains of an ancient mighty elm tree, now a phantasmagorical collection of writhing limbs and grotesque excavations but there are plenty of thriving trees shading the village creating a cool and pleasant atmosphere.

There is no café or bar or shop, just peace and the sound of the wind, stunning views and Griffon vultures soaring above the peaks.

 A glimpse of the past but not the reality. It must have been a bustling little community once,with a school, a communal bread oven, animals in the fields and the corrals of the village, births and deaths and the lives lived in between. Now it's a really special sanctuary, charming and a little melancholy.

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