Not too many tourists visiting Spain know about the Juzcar Smurf Village, set in the scenic, hilly region of Andalusia. An actual Smurf village – or rather, what used to be one.
Juzcar witnessed its fifteen minutes of fame back in 2011, shortly after the Smurfs movie came out – and for good reason too.
But the rise to fame of the previously white-housed village of Juzcar was quick to turn on its heels.
Here’s the short version of how Spain became second home to the Smurfs, then got shunned.
How Spain Became Second Home to the Smurfs
If it weren’t for the hills lining the horizon, you might as well think you’ve been teleported to an alternate Belgium, where Smurfs actually do exist. In fact, you’ve not stepped into a fantasy dimension. And you’re definitely not in Belgium either.
This is Juzcar Smurf Village, a quaint little village in Andalusia, southern Spain.
Once one of the White Villages of Andalusia, the buildings in Júzcar (counting the church and gravestones) are now painted in smurf-blue.
How did this happen? Well, Sony Pictures chose the 250 inhabitants village of Juzcar as setting for the Smurfs because of its famous mushrooms growing in the neighboring hills. After all, Smurfs are known for their love of mushrooms.
Júzcar lies in the shadow of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, and the setting could not be better.
So when the premiere of the Smurfs movie was celebrated in the spring of 2011, Sony got permission to paint the entire village baby smurf blue – for the ceremony and following photo shots.
And blue stuck. Though Sony did offer to repaint the village back to its normal Andalusian white, the villagers wholeheartedly voted to leave the buildings in their new smurf blue style.
Perhaps not entirely unrelated was the sudden rise to fame the little village was now experiencing. Tourist numbers reportedly exploded from 300 to 80,000 in the six months that passed.
In the beginning, the makeover did little to change the character of the village: life still ran slowly as it always did, streets were still narrow, and the traditions and the serene atmosphere created the same charm of a typical Andalusian village, only.. with a touch of color.
Fame Feuds Got The Smurfs Evicted
Since Juzcar’s popularity was almost entirely created by the new niche tourism created around the smurfs, the villagers obviously had to pay royalties for every smurf related activity or commerce. What’s fair is fair after all.
However, it didn’t take long for conflict to break out between local authorities and the heirs of the Smurfs creator.
Starting August of 2017, the village has been ordered to stop all Smurf-related activities and references to the brand. The reasons are not entirely clear, but what’s obvious is this: Juzcar is no longer Smurf Village.
Smurf Village No More – But Not Feeling Blue
Even though such a small village certainly benefited from the public appreciation, I’d not be feeling too blue – as this decision may not be so bad news after all.
Having to cater for the increasing hoards of tourists does have its downsides.
Visitors, oblivious to the practicalities of having to suddenly accommodate tens of thousands where only 250 live their lives, were already complaining about the ‘lack of service’ and ‘lack of options’ for eating out while in Juzcar.
Other more jaded visitors were left unimpressed by the village’s blue charm; perhaps they were also expecting smurfs to serve cold beer and tapas..?
Some might also say that short-term fame is not worth losing your cultural identity over. I certainly agree with this one.
Better Put Your Explorer Hat On
While you can still go see the smurf blue buildings of Juzcar, a definite sight to behold as they stand out in the lush green landscape, only the villagers know for how long.
What’s the point in staying blue, after all?
Rather than feeling disappointment because you heard of a blue smurf village that is no longer, explore the region! Let yourself surprised by the outworldly Torcal de Antequera, the impressive heights of Ronda, or the countless white villages of the south.
Or put your hiking boots on and explore the beautiful nature surrounding Juzcar. Try the trekking routes through the amazing rocky landscape of Torcal de los Riscos, the beautiful forests of Castañar de Júzcar, or the Genal Valley.
Viewpoints will open up to the Sierra de las Nieves, and you’ll understand why Juzcar used to be the perfect home for the Smurfs.