Valmuel and Puigmoreno are the only two towns built after the post-war period in the province of Teruel. They are 12 km west far from Alcañiz and 4km far from each other. They are both under the administration of Alcañiz.
The word settler comes from a Latin term which means inhabit and cultivate. The processes of settlement have always been intimately linked to the History of Spain. From the Greek, the Phoenician, and the Carthaginians to the occupation of the overseas countries in the 15th century with the discovery of America, the settler has always been an outstanding figure. The post civil war period also brought about more modern and recent processes of colonization. It was an agricultural colonization of some rural areas which took place under the auspices of the Spanish dictatorship in which thousands of families were politically and economically involved.
The National Settlement Institute was the official institution dependent of the Department of Agriculture which was in charge of the planification and implementation of colonization schemes in all the different areas of the country. About 300 towns emerged from this period.
In Aragon 30 towns were created, a great social experience since men and women coming from very different places and cultures were brought together to create a common identity.
TWO NEW SETTLEMENTS 1958
In the 50s there was an agricultural and colonizing policy which provided irrigation systems to those new towns so as to guarantee them a future. The National Settlement Institute was in charge of this process until the 70s when it was transformed into the Institute for the Reform and Agricultural Development. It was in that period, and specifically in 1958 when Valmuel and Puigmoreno were created covering an area of 2,000 hectares.
The main objective was to implement important changes in the agricultural areas by reorganizing and reactivating the agricultural industry and to boost the output by increasing the farming fields and the irrigation areas.
The National Settlement Institute arranged the creation of these towns for 1953. Architects and engineers working for the Institute were in charge of their construction. The plan was to create a functional and homogeneous set of blocks arranged around a square, the church and the council. Five types of dwellings were created of different dimensions and room arrangement. They were all built on a rectangular surface covering 500 square metres and they all had a yard.
People coming from the provinces of Teruel, Zaragoza and even Soria were given their home by the administration according to their family size.
Each settler was assigned a home, a 6 ha. piece of land and some animals by drawing lots. The Institute gave them a period of twenty five years to pay for the properties received, a great fortune for that time. These towns were tightly controlled by the state through the Institute. This high control was personified in the figure of the guard who was in charge of safeguarding the rules.
The guards had to directly report to the agronomic engineer who had to report to the head of the irrigated lands. On the other hand, the settlers created a Board to act as mediators between their neighbours and the Institute.
Valmuel is located in the basin of the river El Regallo, just between its left bank and the hill of Puigmoreno, 270 metres above the sea level. Currently it has a population of 140 but in its beginnings (1956) it peaked 244 inhabitants.
The square, where you can find the church, is the centre of the social life of the town where you can find the most significant buildings.The parish church is devoted to the guardian angel. This church, with a square bell tower and a fountain has a great symbolism. Around the square you can find the healthcare centre, the council, the house of the schoolteacher, the local pub and the social club.
Nowadays Valmuel is equipped with a complete set of infrastructures such as the school, the sportscentre, public parks and swimming pools as well as a multiservice shop recently opened.
In 2005 a historical centre on the agricultural settlements was inaugurated as a tribute to the origins of the town. Located in la Calle Mayor, in the former house of the Guard, its main purpose is to explain tourists the process of settlement which took place fifty years ago to completely modify the original landscapes. These towns and their inhabitants are the living examples of this recent past of Spain.