In order to get the residents out of the town and carry out the work, the Portuguese hydroelectric plant EDP began the arduous task of negotiations.
The people of Aceredo of course did not want to leave their town, but finally some were convinced to abandon their homes in return for financial compensation.
As soon as the company had convinced just over half of the residents to leave, the order was published in the Spanish BOE state bulletin for the rest to pack up and go, despite the neighbourhood demonstrations.
When did Aceredo first disappear underwater?
Once permissions were fully approved, all the residents had left and the dam had been built, the hydroelectric plant closed its floodgates on January 8th 1992. The river began to flow in quickly, swollen from a period of very heavy rainfall, and Aceredo began to be submerged underwater.
Yes, the same happened to four other nearby villages – O Bao, Buscalque, A Reloeira and Lantemil which were also swallowed up by the rising waters of the reservoir.
The floods happened so quickly and the people in some of the villages were not aware or had not been warned. Some of the residents of the towns of Buscalque and O Bao for example, had to swim out with any belongings they could grab, watching their animals drown before their eyes. The residents there were lucky that the disaster didn’t claim any human lives, as EDP did not even disconnect the power cables before it was flooded.
Another reservoir was also created further north, due to the pact that Spanish dictator Francisco Franco signed in the 1960s.
This was the Belesear Reservoir, near the town of Portomarín. In this case, the residents had lots of warning and in anticipation of the flooding, the settlement was relocated to higher ground.
Some of the most historic buildings in the town were rebuilt stone by stone including the 12th and 10th-century churches of San Nicolás and San Pedro.
Why is Aceredo the most famous?
Aceredo is the most well-known of these flooded Galician villages as it is one of the only ones that completely remerges when the water levels are low.
Here, the water levels recede every few years, so that it is possible once again to walk along its streets and peer into the skeletons of its buildings.
Other villages such as the one in Portomarín, only allow for the tops of its buildings and the spires of its churches to be seen when water levels recede.
Did this only happen in Galicia?
Unfortunately, no. Several towns in different parts of Spain have fallen to the same fate as Aceredo. In 1987, the old Leonese town of Riaño was completely demolished to build the reservoir of the same name.
The worst tragedy of this kind however happened in Ribadelago Viejo, also in Castilla y León, near Zamora. In 1959, the entire town was washed away by the waters of the Vega de Tera dam, due to a construction error. Of its 549 inhabitants, 144 died, although only 28 bodies were recovered. The rest remain submerged underwater.