If you’re looking for unusual places to include in your northern Extremadura road trip itinerary, save Granadilla on your favourites. This ghost town in the Trasierra-Tierras de Granadilla area of Cáceres province is a peculiar place with a peculiar story worth visiting.

This article covers what you need to know to visit Granadilla – from the main sights and the sad story of how it became a ghost town to practical info and personal tips on things like how to get there or when to go.

Granadilla

Originally founded as Granada by the Moors in the ninth century, Granadilla adopted its current name in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs conquered the city of Granada, to avoid any confusion. During the Middle Ages, Granadilla grew to become the main town in the area, which included 17 other towns and villages.

By 1950 more than 1,000 people lived in Granadilla, many of them farmers. In 1955, during the dictatorship, a Council of Ministers declared Granadilla a ‘flood zone’. They ordered most of the land be expropriated to build a reservoir nearby, forcing residents to leave. Granadilla was actually never flooded, but it became isolated after water flooded the surrounding fertile lands and all access roads but one. Even today, the only way to reach Granadilla is via that very same road (unpaved until not that long ago) from Zarza de Granadilla.

The last families left in 1964, some of them to Alagón del Río, a town newly built to take in people from Granadilla. For some years Granadilla was a target for looters. In 1980, already in democracy, Granadilla was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble and soon afterwards included in a list of ghost towns to be restored. Since then, student groups have been coming here to take part in educational activities, help restore buildings and tend vegetable gardens.

The ‘flood zone’ status still remains. Former residents were never allowed to return. The town cannot be developed – no bars, restaurants or hotels can be built. It cannot be permanently inhabited either. Its last residents have spent decades fighting to reverse the unfair ‘flood zone’ status (their legitimate right, since the state never used the expropriated land for the allocated purpose).

For more details about the story, watch this BBC video about Granadilla.

How to get to Granadilla by car

The main point of reference to get to Granadilla is the A-66/E-803 road (Autovía Ruta de la Plata) running through Extremadura from north to south.

If you’re coming from the north, get off at exit 442 towards La Granja and follow the signs for Conjunto Histórico Artístico de Granadilla.

If you’re coming from the south, get off the A-66/-803 road at exit 446 towards Zarza de Granadilla. Go straight at the first crossing in Zarza de Granadilla and look out for the brown Conjunto Histórico Artístico de Granadilla signs. Granadilla is 11km from the northern end of Zarza de Granadilla.

What to see in Granadilla

Castillo de Granadilla

The castle was built in the fifteenth century from the remains of a ninth-century Moorish fortress. Elegant in appearance, this defensive structure includes a main square tower flanked by circular turrets at each of its four sides. Something quite unusual about this castle is that the barbican is located inside the walls instead of acting as an outer defensive structure.

Climb up to the top to enjoy a great view of the nearby reservoir and the surroundings. This will give you a good idea of Granadilla’s original size and allow you to spot the restored buildings.

Castillo de Granadilla
Castillo de Granadilla: barbican
Castillo de Granadilla: view over the reservoir

Muralla​

The entire town is within the walls (muralla), which experts date back to the ninth century. There are two wall gates: the main one is located by the castle and is the only entrance to Granadilla; the second gate (Puerta de Coria) is located at the other end of the walls and is closed.

It’s possible to walk around the wall but note that renovation works may affect part of the walkway.​

Granadilla: view from the walls

Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción​

Built in the 16th century, the church is the only building in Granadilla that wasn’t expropriated, thanks to the Coria bishop’s opposition. It remains closed all year round except 15 August and 1 November, so the chances are that you’ll only be able to see it from outside. The main highlights are the main portal (a classic seventeenth-century granite portal) and a smaller portal on the northwestern side displaying an ogive arch.

Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción, Granadilla
Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción, Granadilla_door detail

Plaza del Castillo and Calle Mayor

You’ll find the best examples of renovated houses in Plaza del Castillo (opposite de castle) and along the main street (Calle Mayor), which runs from the main entry gate (Puerta de la Villa) to the main square. Some houses have been painted in bright bold colours; potted plants decorate window sills, balconies and facades, where you can also see traditional stone benches.

Calle Mayor, Granadilla
Plaza del Castillo, Granadilla
Plaza del Castillo, Granadilla

Plaza Mayor

There are some interesting buildings on the main square (Plaza Mayor), so take your time to walk around. On the northwestern side of the square, look out for the stony former prison and Guardia Civil station, the former bar (a colonnade supports its front porch), and the beautifully pink Casa de las Conchas (‘house of the shells’) on the corner.

Other highlights include the former town hall, with a flock of bids decorating the side of the building, and the big yellow house right opposite (Casa de la Balconada), with its pretty wooden balcony.

Granadilla_Plaza Mayor: casa de la balconada
Plaza Mayor (northwestern side), Granadilla
Granadilla: casa de las conchas

Visiting Granadilla

Opening times: (November-March) from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1.30pm and from 4pm to 6pm; (April-October) from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1.30pm and from 4pm to 8pm. Mondays closed.

Guided tours: not available.

Entry fee: free entry and free parking.

Facilities: the restored buildings in Granadilla are not open to the public but for the castle. There are no other tourist facilities available. You cannot stay overnight in Granadilla and there are no bars, restaurants, or shops. Bring your own food and water since you won’t be able to buy anything there.

Map of Granadilla

Find all the places mentioned in this article on the map below.

When to visit Granadilla

I do not recommend visiting Granadilla in the summer. My last visit was in mid-June and I found the weather too hot to fully enjoy walking along the walls. The only places where you can find a bit of shade are the castle and some benches on the main street and the main square. I kept the visit short and headed to a natural swimming pool afterwards.

I also visited Granadilla in mid-March and I think that the end of winter or early spring are generally a good time to go because the temperatures are mild and the surrounding areas are still green. Not suitable for rainy days.

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

Hi! I’m Irene (/ee-REH-neh/). Long since settled in the UK, I explore my Spanish home region of Extremadura with an inquisitive mind, a sharp eye, and the duality that comes with being both a local and a visitor. Then I write about it here to help you discover this beautiful yet overlooked part of Spain. If you have any questions after reading this article, submit a comment below! Read more about me.

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