PROVINCIA DE ZAMORA – For those who had hoped to buy an entire village in a beautiful part of Spain near the Portuguese border for only €260,000, you are in for a disappointment. A builder from Toledo has entered into a provisional agreement with the owners.
In the province of Zamora, on the banks of the River Duero, next to the border with Portugal, is Salto de Castro, an abandoned town since the late 1980s with more than 40 houses, a church, school, bar, swimming pool and even an old barracks of the Guardia Civil. The town belongs to the municipality of Fonfría. It was built in the mid-20th century to house the workers who built the Castro dam. However, when the construction was finished and the Guardia Civil moved to another barracks, the town became deserted.
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Since it was announced that it was for sale in its entirety for €260,000, Salto del Castro dominated the news. It appealed to many people’s imagination to purchase an entire village for the price of an average apartment in a Spanish provincial capital.
Salto de Castro is located in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, a protected natural area with a great attraction for tourists. A family bought it from Iberdrola in 2000 to build a rural hotel and give the town a tourist use. However, the previous economic crisis in 2008 paralysed the project. Builder Oscar Torres from Toledo manages the Faso group and has now reached a preliminary agreement to purchase the town. He wants to invest in a rural hotel and invest in further using the town for tourist use.
“I’ve always wanted to rebuild an abandoned village so people can visit it,” Torres told a local newspaper. He emphasised the “attractive price” of Salto del Castro, and confirmed he has already made a sign of purchase. Furthermore, he is now further preparing the documentation to complete the sale. And will also work on obtaining government grants through European funds to further develop the project.
Additional investment required of €3 to €5 million
According to his calculation, he needs an initial investment of 3 to 5 million. With this, he plans to restore the town´s buildings and build houses and apartments for tourists and a rural hotel. “It’s a lot of work. An operation like this is difficult, but it doesn’t scare me,” said Torres. Moreoever, he has also carried out other projects for hotels in Castile-La Mancha. “I know how to build and I like to restore,” he adds.
He sees the value of the “spectacular environment” with high biodiversity. Portugal is 1.5 kilometres away, and there is a boat dock, “the area has a microclimate that keeps the temperature below 16ºC in winter and 30ºC in summer,” explains Torres.
“Opportunity to repopulate empty Spain”
Romuald Rodríguez, director of Royal Invest Madrid, who brokered this sale, pointed out that the sale of Salto del Castro through the property portal Idealista is “an opportunity for repopulating empty Spain”. He stated on TVE that he had already received some solid offers, including that from this builder from Toledo.
In total, Salto de Castro occupies an area of 7.8 hectares and has built more than 6,600 square metres, for which it would have a price of €39 per square metre, according to the announcement of the sale on the Idealista portal. The representative of the real estate company explained that the family that now owns the village wants to sell it due to advanced age and the fact that “the children are devoted to other things and live outside Spain”.
Heritage Red List
Salto de Castro was included in the Red List of Historic Heritage in Decline of the Hispania Nostra association last year. The “state of desolation and progressive ruin” of the village, which has also suffered from vandalism in recent years.
“Initiative welcomed with open arms”
Its purchase and additional tourism projects will stimulate the economy of the surrounding towns. It is one of the areas most affected by depopulation in Spain. In this sense, the mayor of Fonfría, Sergio López, pointed out that “any activity developed in the area that reactivates the economy is welcomed with open arms.”