PUYUELO - Only 15.8% of the total population still lives in the so-called Empty Spain, which covers just over half of the interior of the country. While Spanish cities have doubled or even tripled in size over the past century, the population in the interior of the country has barely increased.

The space created by this depopulation turns out to be fertile ground for the neo rurales or new rural people, a growing group of young people who have turned their backs on the city and are looking for an alternative life in the countryside.
Since many of them never really lived in the countryside, it is difficult to speak of a real 'return'. Rather, it is a symbolic return to the values of the countryside as opposed to those of the city. Disappointed by consumer society, individualisation and the hustle and bustle of urban life, neo-ruralists believe that the countryside offers the chance of a simpler life. In close relationship with nature and fellow man, and in an ecologically responsible way.
Pablo Janssen travelled through the North of Spain in search of their story.

Team members

Pablo Janssen

Pablo Janssen studied Language & Literature and a Master Conflict & Development Studies at Ghent University. Writing and traveling are two of his greatest passions, which he is only too happy to combine.


€ 930 allocated on 25/08/2020.


De lokroep van de lege dorpen, De Standaard, 30/04/2021. (in Dutch)

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.