Spain: Deserted medieval villages available 'free'

The mayor of Cortegada walks in the abandoned village of A Varca Image copyright AFP
Image caption The mayor of nearby Cortegada walks through the abandoned village of A Barca

Deserted Spanish villages, some of them centuries old, can now be acquired free or bought very cheaply, it seems.

A Barca, a village that dates back to the 15th Century, is being offered for nothing - but only to a future owner with a viable plan to preserve its 12 crumbling stone buildings. Meanwhile, the five stone houses in the hamlet of Pena Vella are going for just 62,000 euros (£52,000).

Spain's National Statistics Institute estimates there are around 2,900 empty hamlets across the country, AFP reports. More than half of them are in the north-western regions of Galicia and Asturias. Most villages were abandoned as residents moved to larger cities or better land for farming. The economic crisis has also forced some people to put their properties up for sale.

Local estate agents say these abandoned hamlets are popular with foreign buyers - with Britons, Norwegians, Americans, Germans, Russians and even Mexicans among those queuing up to own a medieval property.

Debt-laden Spain is emerging from a two-year recession, with business confidence starting to rise. But unemployment remains high at 26% and economic growth is expected to be shallow.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.