This village in Spain may have been saved by the pandemic


The castle that crowns the hill above the village of Gósol used to be among the grandest along Spain’s border with France, with views of fertile farms and forests rich in timber that stretched up to the cloudy mountaintops.

But the castle is in ruins now and until last year, Gósol had fallen on hard times, too. The town census had gone down in nearly every count since the 1960s. The school was on the verge of closing for lack of students. The mayor had even taken to television with a plea to his countrymen: Come to Gósol, he asked, or the town would disappear.

It took a pandemic for Spaniards to heed his call.

Among those who packed their bags was Gabriela Calvar, 37, who once owned a bar in a beach town near Barcelona but watched it go under during last year’s lockdowns and decamped to the town in the mountains for a new start.

María Otero, a web designer who found she could telecommute, brought her husband and three children to Gósol, the place where her grandparents had been born but where she had only spent the summers milking cows on visits.

It was the rare silver lining of a troubled time: about 20 or 30 newcomers to a dwindling town of 140 souls, where even the tiny school on the town plaza got a second chance after parents started enrolling their children.

Josep Puig, 67, a retired postman who spent his life watching the younger generation depart, says: “If it weren’t for Covid, the school would have closed and if the school closed, the town might as well have closed, too.”


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