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'Drought tourism': Lake dries up and underwater church becomes 'selfie fodder'
Monday, August 29, 2022 @ 4:21 PM

THIS SUMMER'S drought has proven a mixed blessing for a Barcelona-province town and its visitors – a swamp has completely dried up, uncovering a church that had been underwater for decades.

Vilanova de Sau has seen an unprecedented influx of tourists since the Sant Romà church reappeared as Catalunya's reservoirs and lakes drop to an across-the-board 39% of their total capacity, some of them losing every drop of water.

The Sant Romà church, built in 1061, is normally under water

This is the case with the Sau swamp, which filled up in 1962 after a dam was built in the river Ter, flooding out the dip in the land in the Guilleries-Savassona nature reserve.

Barely 38% full, with some parts literally dust, the entire church has never emerged before, although in past years during periods of drought, the water reduces enough to show part of the bell-tower and even the roofs of the now-defuct village of Sant Romà de Sau.

Thousands of people have been travelling from all over Spain to see it, thanks to what the town council calls 'the Instagram effect', and has even led to a whole new genre of holiday being named: 'Drought tourism'.

Such has been the furore that, from June 24 and, unless anything changes, until September 11, visitors now have to book one of 90 parking spaces a day to see the church, at a cost of €5, or €2 for motorbikes.



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