Mansilla, nothing quite like it

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A month or so ago, my good friends C and J, and I decided to take a road trip around La Rioja. It was mid-October, the perfect time to explore my new region. We traveled around for the whole day, and seriously, it had to have been one of my favorite days since arriving. My favorite part was visiting a place called Mansilla de la Sierra. Don’t worry, even people from La Rioja haven’t heard of it. If you want off the beaten track and undiscovered gems, then Mansilla is your place. It barely registers on Google! About an hour and a half from Logroño, it is an easy day-trip. However, you only want to go in September or October, because for the rest of the year, Mansilla is under water!

Mansilla de la Sierra was a typical Spanish village located in a valley in southern La Rioja, next to a reservoir. In the 50’s, it was decided that the village would be abandoned and relocated then flooded, so that the reservoir could be expanded. Nowadays, if you go to Mansilla in late summer or early fall, the reservoir water level usually drops low enough that the ruins of the old village become visible. You can drive out there and walk around the old town for the day. Kinda creepy.

I have never been to any place like Mansilla before. It felt like I was walking around ancient ruins, like when I went to Pompeii, but different. I couldn’t help but question how the people felt about having to abandon their homes. I am sure many of them are still alive today, and I wonder if they ever revisit their old town. The ruins are pretty well preserved too, you can see distinct houses with the doorways and windows still visible, the church is in good shape, and there are even bridges and petrified trees intact. In the summer when the town is underwater, you can go swimming there, there were even some of the diving boards and floating docks sticking out of the mud!

Have you ever been to Mansilla or any place like it? Do you find Mansilla’s story creepy or interesting?

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7 Comments on “Mansilla, nothing quite like it

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  1. Mansilla was definitely interesting, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it!

    @Jessica, I love your blog! I have been following yours for a while now. I love all your stops in Eastern Europe, reminds me of me when I was there, loved it!

    @Cat I’ll have to check out that books, sounds interesting.

  2. There’s a town called Fuling in China that was swallowed up by the Three Gorges Dam a few years back. For agood read, get River Town by Peter Hessler, which is about his years in the Peace Corps there and his time reflecting on Fuling before it was gone.

  3. I haven’t been to a place with Mansilla’s history before, though the ruins sort of look like ones I’ve seen in Aruba and a few European cities as well (though never completely deserted, like these). I suppose I find Mansilla’s story . . . creepily interesting? It’s always a great adventure to go to a place where you get to feel a bit like Indiana Jones, discovering something new.

    P.S. Nice post! Just discovered your blog via Twitter.

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