Quaint Spanish Village Rejects ‘Most Beautiful’ Label Fearing Hordes of Tourists Following
IN MADRID – Nestled on a high escarpment near Spain’s Priorat wine region, Siurana was Catalonia’s last Muslim stronghold against Christian armies in the 12e century.
More than eight hundred years later, the current occupants of this small village are resisting a modern-day invader: tourists.
The village, 85 miles south of Barcelona, has just 30 full-time residents, declined an invitation to join a list compiled by the most beautiful villages in Spain, an influential organization that chooses the best places to visit in across the country.
The mayor of nearby Cornudella de Montsant, responsible for Siurana, said more tourists were not welcome.
“We already have a problem of too many tourists and it is impossible to bring more people here. It’s just a small place with only a few houses. Preserving the quality of the place and offering quality tourism is currently not possible. Maybe in the future but not now,” Salvador Salvadó said. I.
“We don’t have the tourism infrastructure like hotels and wifi to accommodate more people coming to Siurana.”
About 30 people live permanently in the village, but in the summer this number doubles as people live in second homes to escape the heat of the Mediterranean coast.
Popular with climbers and walkers who travel to Siurana to take in views of the Prades Mountains, it was the last Muslim enclave to fall to Christians in 1153.
Andreu Bartolomé, who lives in Siurana, said the council’s refusal to be included in the Pretty Villages list was a distraction from the village’s existing tourist problem.
“We haven’t done enough to solve the problem of the tourists we already receive. We have to welcome people who are already coming here without worrying about having more people,” he said. I.
Spain’s Most Beautiful Villages denied that being on its list would attract hordes of tourists.
“To appear on the list implies a significant increase in tourism, but it is seasonally adjusted tourism. It’s not about harming the village,” said Francisco Maestre, president of the association. El País newspaper.
“We’ve never had such a clear rejection.”
The association, which receives €30,000 (£26,107) a year from the Spanish government, has 105 villages on its list. Only one in four villages that apply to be on the list is chosen, Maestre said.
They are chosen according to 45 factors including “urban balance”, household waste collection services and the distribution of cabling in the street.
Siurana is not the first place to resist the lure of tourism.
Residents of other cities including Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Amsterdam and Venice have protested against what they perceive to be the harmful side effects of mass tourism.
The rise of airlines selling cheap flights, the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental sites, and the fashion for bachelor and bachelorette parties in town have seen the number of visitors to these popular cities increase in recent years.
Protests have erupted in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, along with attacks on tourist buses and painted Tourists Go Home signs in working-class neighborhoods in both cities.