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Derelict village that was built on unstable ground, today attracts thousand of tourists

Bojan Ivanov
Left: The abandoned houses in Old Gairo. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0. Right: Vegetation has overtaken the old village. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

Old Gairo is a small abandoned village in the Province of Nuoro in the autonomous region of Sardinia, Italy.

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is situated in the Western Mediterranean, south of the French island of Corsica. Old Gairo is located approximately 50 miles northeast of the capital of Sardinia, Cagliari. The village was fully deserted in 1963.

The region where Old Gairo is located. Photo credit: Hans Peter Schaefer, CC BY-SA 3.0

The region where Old Gairo is located. Photo credit: Hans Peter Schaefer, CC BY-SA 3.0

The buildings began to collapse, mainly because the village was built on unstable ground. Today Old Gairo is a haunting ghost town that attracts thousand of tourists from all over the world.

It is the most popular ghost town of Sardinia, and perhaps one of the most beautiful and picturesque places on the whole island.

Gairo Vecchio or Old Gairo. Photo credit: Mbarrieau, CC BY 3.0

Gairo Vecchio or Old Gairo. Photo credit: Mbarrieau, CC BY 3.0

 

The abandoned houses in Old Gairo. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

The abandoned houses in Old Gairo. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

Vegetation has overtaken the old village. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

Vegetation has overtaken the old village. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

The name of Gairo comes from the Greek words “ga” and “roa” (“land” and “slide”). The sad story of Old Gairo began in the late 19th century when the inhabitants struggled with constant landslides. In October 1951, the island of Sardinia, especially its eastern side, was devastated by the region’s biggest flood of the 20th century. The old village was destroyed and the inhabitants decided to rebuild their houses on higher and safer ground roughly 1.5 miles away. From the original village, three new villages were born: New Gairo, Cardedu, and Taquisara. The old village was fully abandoned in 1963.

Via Marconi in the abandoned old village. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

Via Marconi in the abandoned old village. Photo credit: trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

The landscape as viewed from Old Gairo. Photo credit: Cristian85, CC BY 3.0

The landscape as viewed from Old Gairo. Photo credit: Cristian85, CC BY 3.0

The region where Old Gairo is located has long been famous for its expansive and beautiful oak forests. Unfortunately, numerous fires have largely destroyed them. Archaeological evidence indicates that this land has been populated since the Neolithic period.

But Old Gairo is the real attraction of the region. The old village with the narrow streets and its unique buildings depicts the historical pastoral life of an old Sardinia. Some of the old stone houses still have stairs, windows, and fireplaces.

Some of the walls are still in the characteristic blue or pink color, exactly as they were left 50 years ago. The desolate remains of this charming rural village sleep in peace. Only the shadow of a threat of unpredictable destruction by forces of nature disturbs the tranquility.