The decade has not been kind to the interior regions of Portugal, it’s a common enough story in southern Europe, where rural decline is a long-term tendency that has accelerated since the financial crisis. But a small but growing number of investors are hoping to reverse the slow-motion decline of rural areas.
Nestled in the mountains in the Portuguese interior, the pretty town of Manteigas has suffered a familiar kind of slow-motion decline. “Once the factories started closing, then the schools closed, the shops closed, even the chapel closed,” says Maria José Santos Salvado, a wizard with needle and thread who was laid off as a textile patcher when her factory shut in 2011. “All the young people left. Manteigas became a town of old people.”
But are fortunes about to reverse?
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Photograph: Mark Rice-Oxley/The Guardian