Until spring 2011, Júzcar had been like many other village that are scattered around southern Spain. This kind of villages, with postcard worthy charming houses are scattered around Andalusia region.
That changed when Sony Espana hit upon the idea of painting every building blue; including the church. It was done to celebrate the launch of a new Smurfs movie. The live-action animated comedy is based on the Belgian comics. It portrays the adventures of a group of blue human-like creatures.
In order to transform this “pueblo blanco“ to a Smurf like shade of blue, 4000 litres of paint was spent. It sure was an undoubtedly ambitious promotional stunt.
The original plan was to remove the paint, as soon as the movie’s promotional blitz ended. But, it didn’t work out that way. Instead, residents organized a referendum in its (blue) village hall, in order to determine, whether the village should remain painted blue or revert to its traditional white. They voted to keep it as it was.
The main reason for the decision was that Júzcar had seen a considerable boost in tourism, while in the intervening period. It rose from 9,000 annually to 95,000 in just the six months.
The knock-on effect has been significant, with a host of new businesses, including guesthouses, opening up in the tiny village.
However, the transformation has not been without controversies. The owners of the Smurfs trademark demanded that the villagers pay them 12% of any income related to The Smurfs. To get around that, the village is now known as “the blue village” instead of “the Smurf village’ (or Pueblo Pitufo, in Spanish). But, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t no signs of the original reason this village became blue.
Smurfs-related artwork still adorns some of the buildings. Visitors still find a seven-foot plastic Smurf in the village, which makes for an excellent chance for a photo.
Adding to the commercialization, as well as surreal feel of the village, a zip wire also operates from the top of the hill to the parking lot below.
However, beyond that, Júzcar retains all the charm you’d expect of a tiny Andalusian village. With a population of just 250, it offers a perfect place to get a taste of the “real Spain”. So, explore its narrow winding streets, with albeit against the backdrop of a decidedly incongruous hue.
Hiking trails in the surrounding area are plentiful. Culinary tours are also popular. Visitors, who go there in Fall, also find the surrounding area filled with different fungi species. Fan fact: the loveable blue creatures the village pays tribute to, also have a penchant for mushrooms.
Júzcar is located approximately 70 miles from the city of Malaga, and just 15 miles from Ronda, making it accessible for those, who not wish to stay overnight.
Whether you take a day trip to Júzcar or stay for longer, one thing’s for sure: quirky splash of blue in the lush green of the Andalusian hills, is one place that will live long in the memory. That’s thanks to those blue human-like characters.