golfing in the housing bust

on day nine we walked through the town of Cirueña, which gambled big in the housing boom and lost big. the earliest references to the town date from the 10th century and its development was closely linked to that of Nájera and its monastery. many townspeople fled during the mid-14th century (not precisely certain why — wikipedia tells me it’s because repeated “desafueros de sus vecinos” which has something to do with violent acts) and returned when taxes were dropped for a ten-year period beginning in 1387.
what makes the village interesting these days, however, are the vacant housing units. a golf club — the Rioja Alta Golf Club — opened on a hill to the east of town in 2003. designed as a grand tourist attraction, it is surrounded by small-unit buildings and townhouses, presumably aimed at those well-heeled enough to spend most weekends playing golf. hundreds of units, most of which remain empty or with the occasional faded “For Sale” sign (which led to the area’s nickname of “Se Vende”). some had compact front “gardens”; some had interesting balconies; some connected to a neighborhood pool that was, impressively, filled and clean — the place wasn’t completely vacant, just almost entirely vacant. 

the Golf Club built most of these lots and the right to join the golf club is reserved to those people who own those properties. as their website explains: 
Spacious homes with one, two, three and four bedrooms, independent plots for building detached or semidetached villas. The community is set in an exceptionally natural environment in the countryside. The Camino de Santiago (Saint James’ way) crosses right in front of the Club house.
An ample sports area, exclusively for residents, with swimming pools, tennis and paddle courts.
The right to become a member of the Golf club is reserved to property owners.
so, I suppose if you’re looking to retire to a golf community in the middle of the Spanish countryside, there are worse places to look. you wouldn’t have many neighbors; nor would you have a lot of options for nightlife, restaurants, pubs, or shopping for essentials (i.e. groceries). we chose to walk past the Club House and search for food in town; our mistake. while the bocadillo con queso y vegetal was surprisingly tasty, we ended up sharing it because the twentysomething dude behind the bar had such a sour, long-suffering, put-upon attitude that he dissuaded us from trying to order a second sandwich.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.