El Acebuchal lies between Frigiliana and Cómpeta in the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama natural park / e. cabezas

Former abandoned village of El Acebuchal features in Empty Spain calendar

The locality, which lay empty after the Spanish Civil War until a couple started buying property two decades ago, is the only Andalusian enclave in the national publication

Eugenio Cabezas
EUGENIO CABEZAS

The village of El Acebuchal in the Axarquía has been chosen to feature on one of the months of the Empty Spain calendar launched by the company Grupo Driver. According to the company, there are some 3,000 abandoned villages in Spain, in addition to the almost 1,500 with less than 100 inhabitants, which account for approximately 20 per cent of the total number of Spanish municipalities.

Although some of the villages that were abandoned are in the process of recovery, thanks to individuals or entities that have made a commitment to bring them back to life. Twelve of these municipalities are the protagonists of 2022 calendar of Empty Spain.

Just two decades ago El Acebuchal was an abandoned village, in ruins, after the few remaining residents were evicted by order of Franco in 1948 for collaborating with the 'maquis' guerrillas during the Civil War.

Popular destination

However, around 20 years ago a local couple whose family came from the village that lies between Frigiliana and Cómpeta, started to buy up property and it has become one of the Axarquía’s most popular destinations thanks to its idyllic location in the heart of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama natural park.

The Empty Spain calendar initiative, launched three years ago by the Driver Group; a network of centres specialising in tyres and mechanics, aims to promote villages that are suffering the consequences of depopulation and are at risk of disappearing if action is not taken quickly. The Calendar of Empty Spain selects 12 villages each year, to support them and give them visibility. All of this year’s choices are seeing something of a revival.

The initiative invites people to discover twelve hidden corners of Spain, such as the villages of El Acebuchal, El Alto and El Bajo, which are recovering their former splendour and charm, and want to publicise their stories, their fiestas, their people and how to get to them by road. Along with a photograph of each locality, the calendar includes an individual description of each village and suggests the best route to reach all of them "with total confidence" by car.

In addition to El Acebuchal, the calendar also includes the towns of Isín, Jánovas, and Lanuza in Huesca, Arenillas in Soria, Olmeda de la Cuesta in Cuenca, Poyales (La Rioja), Sarnago (Soria), Solanell (Lleida), Velilla (La Rioja), and Villalibado and Villamorón in Burgos.