In 2004, a new and improved high speed rail network was announced that would connect the 2 major cities of Madrid and Barcelona, with a new stop built near Guadalajara along the route. As a result, Reyal Urbis, a Spanish construction giant, invested $1.6billion creating their “jewel in the crown”, Valdeluz, a brand new town located 37 miles outside Madrid. A place for the “comfortable middle-class to rest and play and raise their children amidst lush greenery, away from the dirt, grime and clutter of the capital”.
Construction began later that year and the footprints of the town were marked out, with a vision of 30,000 residents, 9 schools, 60,000sqm of shopping space and a shuttle train that would take you to Madrid in under 20 minutes.
But in 2008 the financial crash hit Spain and construction of Valdeluz came to a halt overnight. Only the first of four phases were finished, and of the envisioned population of over 30,000, just 197 arrived. Soon enough, Valdeluz turned into one of Spain’s infamous ghost towns, filled with unwanted property, unfinished construction and high crime rates.
Since then, life in Valdeluz has been on the rise, with the reopening of the primary school in 2017, to the introduction of parks, a supermarket, and a new sports hall, which has seen the population grow to over 4000. Life in Valdeluz is a far cry from what Reyal Urbis had envisioned, but is a community that has fought off the odds and has come out the other side.
Valdeluz is not just a story about Spains failed economy, but is more about the prospect of hope. The hope that the residents have, the hope they have in their community and the hope that no matter what life throws at them they can come back stronger.