GÓSOL, Spain — The castle that crowns the hill above the village of Gósol used to be among the grandest along Spain’s border with France, with views of fertile farms and forests rich in timber that stretched up to the cloudy mountaintops.
But the castle is in ruins now, and until last year, Gósol had fallen on hard times, too. The town census had gone down in nearly every count since the 1960s. The school was on the verge of closing for lack of students. The mayor had even taken to television with a plea to his countrymen: Come to Gósol, he asked, or the town would disappear.
It took a pandemic for Spaniards to heed his call.
Among those who packed their bags was Gabriela Calvar, a 37-year-old who once owned a bar in a beach town near Barcelona, but watched it go under during last year’s lockdowns and decamped to the town in the mountains for a new start.
María Otero, a web designer who found she could telecommute, brought her husband and three children to Gósol, the place where her grandparents had been born, but where she had only spent the summers milking cows on visits.
bought an entire village in the region of Galicia — one of an estimated 3,000 that are abandoned there — for 45,000 euros, less than $55,000. This year, a local political party that’s made advocating the oft-forgotten province of Teruel its sole aim won seats in Spain’s national legislature. It’s name: Teruel Exists.