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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spain- Burying the Dead

How do you bury the dead if your village is located on a mountain of solid granite?
The stunning and very bohemian village of Gaucin, 600 feet above sea level in the Sierra Blanco range, has a cemetery that uses a very common Spanish approach to recognizing the dead.

Digging holes into solid rock is not a practical option. Instead, many of the mountainous villages on the coast use vaults as a way of remembering the dead. Space on the narrow mountaintops is an issue so the vaults are small in size and uniform in look.

Each vault is decorated differently- from elaborate Christian imagery etched on marble, to simple crosses next to a photograph of the deceased. Some had as little as a single flower. A moving experience.

The village of Gaucin is one of the most unique villages I've explored. It is part of the White Villages of the coast. On this link Rick Steves writes about his visit to Arcos De La Fontera- another incredible village. De La Fontera means the front line. The villages were built as part of a military fort system by the Catholics
near the Moorish Muslim enclaves. There are about a dozen of these white clusters of villages nestled into the sides of mountains.

In Gaucin, narrow alleys, a handful of unique art galleries, amazing views, and tapas bars make this a place worth visiting.