The twin villages of Marinaleda and Mataradonda are the last bastion of Communism in Europe. A community that has held out against the capitalists all around. And the funny thing is that it works! The local councillors actually reinvest their taxes in the village rather than their bank accounts and the result is a spotless, immaculately maintained village with the best possible pools, town hall, schools and facilities. Now if ever there was a free marketeer it was me but I have to say that if the communists could do this everywhere I'd be a party member. Unfortunately however it's the exception that proves the rule, so this is a one-off opportunity to live in the best run village in Spain.
OK, so what facilities do they have? Banks, Shops, Bakers, Bars and Restaurants, Primary and Secondary schools, sports facilities and parks; the town has two outdoor swimming pools which operate for a nominal entry price in the summer. On Wednesday the general market is in the town offering extra choice in local products.
Situated about 20 km for Ecija and 10 from Estepa, Marinaleda has good motorway access to Seville, Malaga and Granada and the beaches of the Costa del Sol are now less than an hour away using the new AP45 motorway, and the airports of Malaga and Seville are both easily reached within an hour. Oh, and as well as having great facilities and looking good, it's also extremely friendly and welcoming - something to do with believing in community and international brotherhood I suppose.
Don't take my word for all of this come and see for yourself.
Just don't let on who you vote for!
My colleague Austin Tansley feels the town deserves a fuller description because he is as impressed as me with the way it is run. Here are his comments:
Marinaleda is home to approximately 25 expatriates, some are permanently relocated whilst others use Marinaleda as a breathing-space, returning to their properties at various times of the year. Marinaleda has enviable accessibility to some of the most beautiful and historically rich locations in Andalusia, Cordoba, Seville, Ecija, Estepa and Osuna. With access to local produce through the outdoor market and local mobile sellers Marinaleda provides culinary delights galore - a certain envy of Rick Stein! There are 2 main supermarkets within the town and a variety of additional shops providing everything you could possibly require on the doorstep. There are numerous bakeries, a fishmonger and butchers, a fruit and vegetable shop, gift shops, post office, a hardware shop, an agricultural centre and a builders merchant. As with most inland villages local crafts men can also be found including a Blacksmith, Glazier and Carpenter.
Andalusia is famed for its love of celebrations and the Andalusian calender is filled with all manner of traditional fiesta when the whole community gather together for the occasion. Marinaleda provides a wide range of activities for all ages. Pensioners are provided with a lavish annual complimentary meal and gift and the community as a whole is bestowed with the same culinary compliment at the New Years Eve celebrations. The arrival of Reyes Magos or Three Kings signals the bestowing of gifts to each of the younger village children followed by the procession of floats throughout the village and gathering of sweets and gifts.
The mayor also encourages community unity during the Candelaria celebrations when free food and beverages are delivered to those holding community bonfires.
The beach can also be enjoyed by all during the summer months as the town provides excursions to the coast through the summer months at the cost of just 10 euros per person.
Being a Peace loving community Marinaleda celebrates Semana Por la Paz or a week of Peace alongside the traditional Semana Santa or Holy Week. In addition the annual community gathering of Dia de la Paz on the steps of the Town Hall offers the local children an opportunity to exchange a symbolic toy weapon for a more peace loving gift. The event culminates in a flour fight in which the local children become walking symbols of the colour of Peace, possibly more fun for the children involved than the parents welcoming their flour clad children back home!
The summer Feria in Marinaleda is a greatly anticipated annual event within the village and has played host to an enviable array of performers throughout the years including Se llama Copla, Manuel Carrasco and Andy y Lucas. This four day celebration ends with a magnificent firework display lighting the village sky and the infamous Torro del Fuego, a sight not to be missed.
Marinaleda has both a primary and secondary school and a nursery for the tiny village folk. The younger generations are also provided with ample activities throughout the year and during the school holidays. Sport is high on the list of extracurricular activities in the region and the outdoor pool provides access to the joys of a summer dip. For those wishing to develop their language skills a language school is provided at no cost which also provides a social aspect to life within the village through regular excursions throughout the year.
The utilities market is now open with a variety of providers offering varying services and price structures. Gas is bottled and at the cost of approximately 15 euros per bottle it is particularly cost effective. Water costs within the village are approximately 20 euros per fortnight. Road tax again appears to vary though at approximately 50-70 euros (2011) it is considerably lower than the UK. For car repairs the village has mechanics and a friendly petrol station provides competitively priced fuel. The yearly ITV (MOT) is approximately 50 Euros (2011) with a free first retest if required. As in the UK it is advisable to shop around for car and property insurance, though something to bare in mind for budgeting purposes is that payments tend not to be monthly. Some insurance companies offer a trimesteral payment option but on the whole fees are required in full.
Refuse collection within Marinaleda is from the doorstep on a daily basis including holidays, the cost for this service is approximately 14 euros on a trimestral basis. The Spanish Council Tax equivalent (IBI Urbana) is approximately 40-70 euros per year dependant upon property size.
The people of Marinaleda collectively maintain the village during Domingo Rojo or Red Sunday, days in which active participation in the community is encouraged. The days are announced by tannoy across the village and are possibly contribute to the fact that the village maintains it's pristine appearance so well.
Marinaleda has an enviable free Internet service the costs for installation are a one off payment of approximately 100 euros. This provides a totally free Internet service within the village.
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