Cívica – Brihuega, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Brihuega, Spain

Cívica

This enchanting hamlet carved into the rock looks like something straight out of Tolkien's Rivendell. 

This strange sight looks like something straight out of Tolkien’s Rivendell. What resembles an ancient, mythical village is carved into the rock, complete with elegant arches that lead into ornate corridors.

Perhaps disappointingly, this random roadside scene is not at all related to the fictional Elven realm. In reality, it’s the work of a 20th-century Spanish priest.

Don Aurelio, the priest of nearby Valderrebollo, Spain, constructed this curious hamlet in the 1960s. Almost every day after mass, he and local volunteers would carve their way through the soft karst. They created elaborate doors and banisters and a network of tunnels that wind through a labyrinth of hidden chambers. Supposedly, one of the lower caves even held a bar frequented by local fishermen.

Now, the intriguing hamlet is abandoned. Some of the inner walls have collapsed, and plants are slowly beginning to blanket parts of the space. But amazingly, a little fountain nestled amid the structures still gurgles with life. Fed from a natural spring, the crystal-clear water cascades out of small set of brass spigots and pools within a trough, waiting to quench the thirst of any animals that happen to wander by.