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Castellfollit de la Roca: An 'explosive' village where you need a head for heights
09 October 2020 @ 19:13

PROBABLY not the best place to live if you suffer from vertigo, but ideal if you want an unrivalled view from your lounge window, taking a wrong turning out of Castellfollit de la Roca could be the last mistake you'll ever make. For your Facebook cover picture, though, it's perfect.

Residents in the 'explosive' village in the La Garrocha (La Garrotxa, in catalán) district of the province of Girona know all about living on the edge: Their long, thin municipality is balanced on a ledge with a sheer drop on either side of over 50 metres (164 feet).

The actual site of the village was formed through erosion from the rivers Fluvià and Toronell on the remains of lava currents, frozen in time following volcanic eruptions approximately 200,000 years ago, creating a ridge of about a kilometre in length.

In fact, Castellfollit de la Roca is home to the only active basalt (cooled lava) mine in Spain, which is still being exploited – it has been in the hands of the Ortiz family since 1929, and the rock is used as building material.

And actually, the majority of its houses are made from volcanic rock.

But whose decision was it to construct an entire village along the ridge in the first place?

According to the town hall, its origins are Mediaeval, which would make sense: It was a time when being hard to reach by enemy invaders, and high enough up to be able to spot them long before they arrived, carried more weight when designing your dream home than a south-facing terrace and a heated swimming pool.

Zip forward 1,000 years or so, and such a strategic location is also a handy way of making sure no invasive building development pops up to spoil the view or lead to overpopulation and a strain on public services; there simply isn't room for either.



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