Portraits of Mogarraz – Mogarraz, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Mogarraz, Spain

Portraits of Mogarraz

Images of neighbors past and present guard the streets of this charming alpine village. 

While walking through the narrow streets of Mogarraz, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a ghost town. Not your traditional, deserted Old West type, but one where you are literally watched by faces of the past.

Images of the village’s residents hang above the narrow streets. The portraits are based on a series of 388 photographs from local photographer Alejandro Martín. He took the pictures in 1967 to help provide his neighbors with national identity cards. At the time, the region was in the midst of an economic downturn, causing many residents to emigrate in search of jobs, which required them to have proper identification.

Fast forward more than 50 years, and local artist Florencio Maíllo undertook a project to transform those photos into giant paintings, adding images of modern residents to the mix as well. They now hang on the buildings throughout the village. The result is a village-wide, slightly spooky, outdoor art gallery.

Mogarraz is one of many villages scattered throughout Las Batuecas National Park in the Sierra de Francia mountains of Salamanca. The region was settled by families of French origin during repopulation efforts throughout the years of the Spanish reconquest, which has given a wonderful alpine feel to the region’s architecture.

However, it’s not the winding cobblestone streets, tall houses, or any other quaint mountain cliché you want to throw at it that make the village stand out. It’s knowing that the images of neighbors past are keeping an eye on the present that gives this place a truly enchanting feel.

Know Before You Go

As it's a small village, you are unable to drive into it, so you must leave your car at the top of the hill and walk down. But don’t worry, the Plaza Mayor has a wonderful outside patio with food and drinks served and many of the locals offer wine from their small bodegas so you will be refreshed and ready for the walk back up.