13th October 2021: Poblado de Villaflores (Spain)

Poblado de Villaflores (Settlement of Villaflores) is a long-abandoned farm settlement was erected between 1886 and 1887. In 1882, María Diega Desmaissières y Sevillano, countess of Vega del Pozo and duchess of Sevillano (among other titles) came to own the land where the village now stands. She was known for her philanthropy and ordering several buildings be built. The settlement was one of these – the duchess commissioned architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco to design a ‘rural colony’. The buildings were erected in limestone masonry and exposed brick, and the most important items in the settlement were the main hamlet, a dovecote, four several-family houses and a hermit church. There is confusing information on whether it has been declared an “interesting” or talks of the the declaration were finally archived.

I have driven by the settlement several times, but at one point I made up my mind to visit, even if the area has been in decline for years – as a matter of fact, a clock tower that used to be part of the hamlet collapsed in 2016, and the first alarms had been rung as early as 1980. Since then, most of the buildings have had the entrances either boarded up or walled, and the collapsed areas seem to unstable to come in explore. I wish I had decided to visit earlier, when real urbex was doable, but oh well.

The actual entrance to the area – which is paved – has been fenced off since at least 2011, despite the different announcements about recovering and restoring the settlement. However, next to the settlement there is an official cattle way (Cañada real ), used to guide the herds from winter to summer pastures (the practice of transhumance). This was a common practice in the Middle Ages, but it died away with time, and today most of them have been turned into hiking trails. The key thing is that as they cross roads, there are big clearings where you can park, and that is the way to go in this particular case. The area is named Cañada Real de las Matas (Área Recreativa Francisco Rodríguez).

At the edge of the holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia) forest, Chaparral de Villaflores someone installed a children recreational area and some tables and benches, maybe mid-1990s, and called it a park Parque del Sotillo. While the tables are still in use – judging by the rubbish around it – the swings and other elements have been plundered.

As I approached the hamlet, antigua casa de labranza, I saw the chicken wire fences but most of them were actually open and torn down, so I guess I just decided to wing it. The hamlet was open but I decided not to enter it, just in case I broke an ankle or something. This is the building that lost the clock tower, and the only one whose property is private – it belongs to a real estate company which at some point planned to develop the area, but backed out for some reason.

I went on to the church, which used to be consecrated to Saint Didacus of Alcalá – antigua ermita de San Diego de Alcalá.

I deviated towards the mill, then backtracked to the houses, crossing the actual road that is blocked. It is weird, seeing roundabouts in such a dilapidated place (≧▽≦). As I was exploring the houses, I heard shots and saw ducks try to fly away, so the cars I had come across, which I expected to belong to people looking for mushrooms ended up belonging to hunters.

That made me a bit apprehensive, but I was finally close to the most attention-grabbing building of the whole settlement – the dovecote, called La Tabalta in Spanish. It has two floors and it could home ten thousand doves – which were kept for recreative hunting in the 1880s.

I did not try to enter the winery because it was too dilapidated, nor the more modern barn, but this was a fun little visit that thankfully did not end up with me getting shot! I might try to visit this again in winter when there is less vegetation. Though since it is in the middle of nowhere the wind will be freezing…

Walking distance: 4.48 km