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Slow renaissance of medieval ghost town in Spanish Pyrenees

Fifty or sixty years ago, residents of small rural Spanish towns abandoned their centuries-old villages in search of a new type of life in the city. For years, the couple thousand ghost towns of mostly Northern Spain lay empty, but in the early eighties, the migration happened in reverse. Residents of cities began to move back to these abandoned towns to start a new, slower, simpler life.

The medieval town of Ibort (75 miles north of Zaragoza) was “rediscovered” in 1986 when a group of friends, tired of city life, arrived here to start living a slower life in the country.

“When they came here, it was to try to return to a type of life closer to nature, closer to certain values that were disappearing from this urban world,” explains Ibort resident Ricardo.

They began rebuilding the homes in keeping with the traditional stone style, most often with labor-intensive slate roofs included. The new villagers had little homebuilding experience, but everyone had to build- or rebuild- their own home.

“I think it’s one of the most beautiful things a person can make, “his house,” explains Ricardo. “In the past nearly everyone had to do it, to live in a home you built, it’s a different experience”.

Today, Ibort is home to about 60 people. There is still rebuilding going on and there is still space to learn from the past. “Our modern world so accelerated, so much rushing around,” says Ricardo. “I think it’s necessary to stop a bit this race to who knows where.”

This ability to live slowly and listen to nature is probably why this thousand year old town still remains standing.

“You have to recognize that in the past, they had a wisdom for finding locations. An instinct that now has likely been lost. Now people build, often, where they shouldn’t. The rivers flood or they’re swept out to sea. Because they’ve lost this traditional knowledge, to know the cycles of nature. Now, since we live in some way with our back to nature, there are many things we ignore.”