The place is Andalucia - the deep south of Spain. In the mountains between Competa and Frigiliana, in the National Park "Sierra de Tejeda", an unsurfaced mountainroad leads into the valley, where an atmospheric white washed village is surrounded by pine trees.
This is the "Lost Village", the "Abandoned Village" or "Pueblo el Fantasma” among Spaniards - The Ghost Village.
Just a few years ago the village was extinct - and had been since 1949. There many stories about Acebuchal. The story most often told is that Acebuchal was where the resistance - who fought against Franco, hid, and that those who survived, was chased out of town by Franco's men.
Others say that the city was abandoned because the residents simply wanted more comfort and a better life.
Fact is that the village consisted of ruins only until 1998 when Antonio "El Zumbo" returned with his wife; Virtudes, to make a lifelong dream of rebuilding Acebuchal come true.
Living just in the next valley between Torrox and Compèta I went on a quest to find the truth about El Acebuchal.
In the local bar I meet Antonio Garcia Sanchez, behind the bar. It was his parents, Virtudes and Antonio, who came back in 1998 to realize the dream of rebuilding Acebuchal.
The young Antonio is only 30 years, but he can tell the story of Acebuchal.
- The village has always been a part of my family's life, he says - they have never abandoned their dream of returning. My grandfather was born here and my mother took me along numerous times through my childhood and told me what house my grandfather was born in, etc.
I ask which one of the rumors about Acebuchal I should believe.
- People call the village many different names, says Antonio, - Spaniards call Acebuchal “Pueblo el Fantasmas” – The Village of Ghosts, because it has been deserted and abandoned for nearly 50 years.
The citizens left the village in 1949 because of Franco, who introduced the law that the villagers could stay in the village during the day, but had to leave before it turned dark ... in other words, they had to obtain another place to live at night ... No one had cars back then, so the residents had to walk from Frigiliana, Torrox or Competa and all the way to Acebuchal every morning and back again in the evening ... because they still had all their livestock and their vegetables to look after in the village.
When asked whether the occupants were resistance fighters or supported the resistance, Antonio answered; - They were just very, very poor farmers. If they had been active against Franco, or had supported the resistance movement, they would have been killed.
The reason that Franco forbade them to stay there at night, was that there was constant fighting between the Guardia Civil and the resistance movement, who hid in the mountains, and the Guardia Civil wanted to obtain a full strategic control of the area.
The constant conflicts and restrictions that were imposed on residents of Acebuchal finally forced them to leave their village.
- But all took a small piece of Acebuchal with them in their hearts, says Antonio - and all continued to dream of returning to the place that used to be their home.
In 1998 the first house was renovated, in 2003 the town had electricity and in 2005 the village streets was completely renovated and the same year, on June 25, Acebuchal was re-inaugurated.
It was Antonio el Zumbo and his family who took the initiative and most of the houses have been very carefully renovated in the traditional rustic style. The white village houses are placed close together in the winding cobbled streets. There has been paid the utmost attention to the smallest details to create atmosphere, and everywhere there are flowers and fertile green succulents.
Antonio and his family owns half of the village houses, which now can be rented as holiday homes. The new Acebuchal has several small pools, so holidaymakers can enjoy a cool swim.
The area is idyllic, peaceful and perfect for those who just want to escape from the crowded coast and the sophistication of life, but any visitors must be satisfied with being self-sufficient both in terms of procurement and activities because the city has only one bar and nothing else. No restaurants, shops or other forms of infrastructure.
The area is ideal for hikers, nature lovers, writers, painters and those who just love to sit outdoors year round and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
On the other hand, it only takes a 15 minutes scenic drive to reach the charming village of Frigiliana with restaurants, bars and shops.
El Acebuchal was originally built in the mid-1700s, but archaeological finds from the Iberian culture and Roman and Arab coins indicates that there was a settlement where Acebuchal is now, long before that time.
The every day life in Acebuchal before the Spanish Civil War rotated roughly about the production of charcoal and limestone and husbandry. Moreover, Acebuchal was a meeting point for traveling merchants from the nearby villages; Torrox, Frigiliana and Nerja.
They loaded their mules up with fish, vegetables and fruit, which they carried over the mountains to the villages of Fornes & Jallena near Granada. Here they sold or exchanged their products, bringing the flour and other products back.
Acebuchal was the place where the men let the mules rest, while they themselves got a piece of bread and a drink... and of course, exchanged travel experiences.
Almost 50 years passed before somebody returned for anything else but a short visit and a heavy nostalgic feeling at the sight of the abandoned village which had once been their home.
Acebuchal is a microscopically small village, or rather a collection of houses situated in a very peaceful, beautiful valley inside the National Park surrounded by fragrant pine trees, thyme and rose marin.
The village is no longer abandoned, it has been resumed and occupied.