Júzcar is a small, rural, mountainous town in the province of Málaga, in deep Andalucía.
Júzcar is about an hour south of my town, Olvera. It’s mostly highway driving until you get closer. Then, the road gets big and treacherous. One small, narrow, one-lane road runs for about 5 kilometers (3 miles) around the mountains. It’s pretty terrifying when a car comes from the other direction because one of the cars has to go off the road for both cars to fit, and one side ends in a sheer drop off the mountain. It’s not a straight road either, it winds around the mountains as the mountains bend and turn.
After a few close calls, closing your eyes and hoping for the best a few times, and a lot of beautiful unpopulated scenery (if you can stay calm long enough to appreciate it), you come across a little town all by itself in the valley of the mountains. A populated town in such a desolate, lonely area is interesting, but what really gets your attention is the color of the town: the entire town is blue!
What’s With All the Smurfs?
In 2011, Hollywood chose Júzcar to host a premier party for the movie “The Smurfs 3D.” They struck a deal with the town that if they could paint everything blue, including the Town Hall, church, houses, and cemetery, they would return all buildings to their original color white within 5 years.
However, this little out-of-the-way rural town benefited from all the tourists coming to see the “Smurf Town” and they let the production company off the hook, keeping the town blue to bring in the tourists. And bring in the tourists it does: on a random Sunday afternoon, there was an hour wait for a table for lunch in this small, mountainous town. In fact, about 250 tourists visit the town per day from all over the world.
Not only were the buildings painted blue, but there were shops all over town selling personalized smurf hats, clothes, and other souvenirs. The children had smurf hats and painted blue faces. Even older men wore smurf shirts. The town was smurfed out! But remember, it’s not a smurf in Spanish; it’s a pitufo.
In addition to blue buildings and smurf shops, there were smurf images painted on almost every house. There were smurf statues on second story terraces, characters on first story walls, mushroom houses, and even smurf music playing on the streets.
The town is a little known hidden gem of Spain. If you find yourself in Andalucía, it is worth the scary trip through the mountains to take a look. Most foreign tourists aren’t aware it exists, so the visitors are mostly local Spanish, which gives the town that much more character. Júzcar is only about 15 minutes from the more popular town of Ronda, so it’s worth a half day trip if you happen to visit Ronda.
Now that I’ve seen the Smurf town, I’m ready to go watch the movie!