The county of Las Hurdes (470 km²) is located in northern Cáceres, Extremadura, and is bordered to the north by Sierra de Gata, and the River Ambroz Valley to the south. Until recently this was one of the most undeveloped corners of Europe, and one of the poorest in Spain, brought to the international limelight by Luis Buñuel’s 1932 grotesque-surreal documentary, Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (”Land Without Bread”), which showed the region and its inhabitants (hurdanos), in a none-too-flattering light. Bruñel had been attracted by a series of official Spanish reports in the previous decades on the backwardness and poverty of the region, and by a famous 1922 visit by King Alfonso XVIII, possibility titillated by the medieval conditions of his subjects, though it did lead to improvements. Las Hurdes has taken decades to shake off this image.
Agriculture is hampered here by low rainfall and poor siliceous soils. The economy, such as there was, was based on olives, potatoes, cereals, and cork oaks. The feudal structure further impoverished the region’s inhabitants until the 20th century. In recent years, living standards in Hurdas have sinceimproved considerably. Rural tourism has brought money in, and beekeeping is also a major source of income, with its numerous hives producing some 200,000 kilos of honey and 60,000 kilos of polen a year. This said, the region still has serious economic difficulties heightened by an aging populace and a process of depopulation.
- A private vehicle is essential to explore Las Hurdes.
- Approach Las Hurdes from Plasencia, Salamanca or Ciudad Rodrigo
- There are five municipalities in the La Comarca de Las Hurdes:
- Casares de las Hurdes
Around the web
- Las Hurdes (Spanish- Wikipediia – good links)
- Practical tips (Rough Guides)
- Tierra Sin Pan the film (Spanish – Wikipediia)
- An Ethnographic Surrealist Film: Luis Buñuel’s Land Without Bread
- Bunuel and the land that never was (The Guardian)Did the great Spanish film-maker fake his most famous documentary? Geoffrey McNab investigates ‘He prostituted and falsified history disgracefully… His whole film is one big lie… He was very cruel to blacken us in that way… I think it’s a pointless film.”These are a few of the milder responses from present-day residents of Las Hurdes, a remote part of northern Spain, to the documentary that Luis Bunuel made in their backyard in 1932. Land Without Bread painted a world of poverty and disease. Bunuel’s camera caught images of goitred women and ravaged old men, of dead babies, deformed midgets and in-bred cretins. It showed a region without basic amenities – roads, electricity.