Lost Spanish Town Emerges From A Reservoir During A Drought


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockAug 29 2017, 17:26 UTC

The ruins of the old town of Mansilla de la Sierra, normally submerged beneath the waters of the Mansilla reservoir, are revealed following a prolonged drought, in Rioja province, Spain, August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent West

A drought has caused the ruins of a lost Spanish town to emerge out of the waters that usually cover it, revealing the remains of the old town as it stood when it was abandoned decades ago.


The town of Mansilla de la Sierra can be found in the sleepy valley of La Rioja in northern Spain. In 1959, the settlement was moved to make way for the construction of the new Mansilla Reservoir, which provides irrigation for the farming village of Alto Najerilla. After the local residents up and moved their lives to the nearby new town, the reservoir was flooded with water, engulfing the remaining buildings of the town.

Following a particularly dry summer, the quiet mountain town has surfaced once again, giving locals and tourists an opportunity to roam around the structures of the long-deserted settlement. Remarkably, it has also allowed some former residents to return to the homes they used to live in during the 1950s.

"The older [people] walk the streets of their hometown with emotion, because they are excited to tell their grandchildren where their home was, but they also feel a lot of nostalgia, because they had a bad time leaving their homes, which remained as they were left," Rocío Menéndez, a nearby resident, told local news site El Periodico.

This phenomenon occurs every so often, usually in the final weeks of summer after the baking dry heat has taken its toll on the reservoir's supply of water.


Spain actually has a fair few villages that have been submerged under waters due to the construction of reservoirs in the 20th century, including San Romà de Sau, a 1,000-year-old village with Romanesque ruins, and Mediano, where a 16th-century church lays underwater.

Back in 2015, the water levels in the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir of Chiapas, Mexico decreased by 25 meters (82 feet), revealing the ruins of the 16th-century Temple of Santiago. The church, originally abandoned in the 1770s due to the plague sweeping the area, was submerged after the construction of a nearby dam in 1966 and laid unseen for decades. 

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  • spain,

  • valley,

  • flood,

  • archeology,

  • environment,

  • history,

  • drought,

  • Atlantis,

  • Lost City