How One Couple Rebuilt An Entire Village At The Edge Of Europe

Photo: Tasmin Hansmann
How One Couple Rebuilt An Entire Village At The Edge Of Europe

If you leave the mainland of Europe behind and travel two thousand kilometers out into the Atlantic Ocean you will find tiny speck of land. Flores Island is a part of the Portuguese Azores Archipelago and looks like paradise. Lush green forests, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, and ocean waves.

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However, beauty comes with a price.

The island is small, isolated, and faces heavy storms in the winter. Hurricane Lorenzo completely destroyed their only harbor in 2019 and disconnected them further, making it almost impossible to receive deliveries and imports that the island relies on.

Problems like this are not new, which is why most of the initial population has moved to the United States, Canada, or mainland Europe, leaving many villages abandoned.

As nature is a strong force on this archipelago, houses quickly turn to ruins as the plants overgrow everything.

Photo: Tasmin Hansmann

One of those villages was Cuada. It had been inhabited for around 400 years with a maximum of 122 inhabitants in 20 traditional stone houses. The walls of these houses were made of nothing but loose volcanic rocks stacked on top of each other, some did not even have a roof.

Not a single person owned shoes, despite the hard labor on the fields and the rough lava rocks everywhere. Just like everywhere in the Azores Archipelago, people were simply too poor to afford footwear. Life was hard and in the 1960s the little village of Cuada was abandoned.

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Many years later the old houses had transformed into ruins and had been overgrown by the wilderness. Until Teotonia and Carlos Silva, a determined couple with a dream purchased the old forgotten village. Their love and determination made an incredible transformation possible.

It took them their entire life, but stone by stone and house by house they rebuilt the entire town of Cuada, making it Aldeia da Cuada.

Today, tourists can visit and rent those rural historical houses and experience the mystical location of the village. Fog hangs over the mountains close by on most days and you can hear the ocean breach against the cliffs.

The houses still hold the charm and simplicity of the old times while offering luxuries such as hot water and electricity.

Internet, however, is nowhere to be found and the car has to be left outside the village. This way the time at Aldeia da Cuada remains authentic and allows you to truly immerse yourself in the nature, silence, and soul of this place.

By restoring 16 of the 20 original houses and naming them after their last owners, the couple has created a magical place that honors the history of not only this specific village but all of the Azores.

The couple who made all of this happen still lives in one of the stone houses, but they do not interact with visitors. They have retired and do not want to be out in the public. Their daughter and her husband have now taken over and will welcome you with open arms.

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Under their careful guidance, Aldeia da Cuada grew into the most beloved tourist accommodation on Flores Island that now also offers a small restaurant at its entrance. It has also received awards for its unique and romantic setup and its sustainability.

Their dream is to carry her parent’s life’s work into the future and make it a temporary home and safe haven for people from all around the world. As new parents, they are also looking forward to passing on this incredible heritage to the next generation when the time comes.

Photos: Tasmin Hansmann

Tasmin Hansmann is a storyteller, poet, and writer. She is the author of "The Anatomy of Waves" and "Welcome Home Dear Soul."