In 1962 the town disappeared under the waters of the Sau reservoir, in Barcelona

San Román de Sau, the submerged town that reappeared due to the drought in Catalonia

The Spanish community of Catalonia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in its entire history, due to the lack of rain.

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On February 1, the four Catalan provinces entered a drought alert. Right now, Catalonia's reservoirs are at 41.74% of their capacity, with two provinces especially affected by the drought: Barcelona, at 10.58% of its capacity, and Gerona, at 19.05%. There are three reservoirs that are already practically dry: Ciurana, Guiamets and Riudecañas, all three in Tarragona.

The medieval church of San Román de Sau, from the 11th century, in a photo taken on January 7, 2013. Usually the bell tower of this church was the only thing that could be seen of this submerged town (Photo: DagafeSQV).

One of the water reserves most affected by this drought is the Sau Reservoir (Barcelona), which is at 3.64% of its capacity. It can hold 165 cubic hectometers of water, but right now it only has 6. When this reservoir was inaugurated in 1962, it left the medieval town of San Román de Sau (Sant Romà de Sau, in Catalan) submerged, founded in the 10th century and with a splendid Romanesque church from the 11th century (it was consecrated in 1062). This town had more than 1,100 inhabitants in the middle of the 19th century, although at the time of the town's expropriation to build the reservoir, in 1951, there were about 300 residents left.

The San Román de Sau mill in a photo published in 1911 (Photo: Ilustració Catalana).

The bell tower of the church of San Román de Sau is usually the only thing that can be seen of the old town, since it peeked above the surface of the dammed water. In periods of drought, the church was completely exposed. Now, for the first time since the inauguration of the reservoir, the entire town has reappeared, including the beautiful mill restored in 1911 and the ruins of the houses.

A photo of the Sau reservoir dam taken in 2013 (Photo: Consorci del Ter).

If you want to see the current state of this reservoir and the ruins of the town of San Román de Sau, I recommend this excellent video published today by the Monxileros Youtube channel, in which the history of that town and the reservoir is told and a tour of that area is taken as it was left now this terrible drought (the video is in Spanish, you can activate the automatic subtitles in English in the bottom bar of the player):


Main image: Monxileros.

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