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!