VILLARTA DE LOS MONTES, SPAIN (Reuters) – A flock of sheep takes shelter from the sweltering midday sun under the gothic arches of a medieval bridge that flooded in 1956 to create the Cijara reservoir in central Spain but is now fully uncovered after a severe drought left the reservoir 84% empty.

In the southern region of Andalusia, one of Europe’s hottest and driest, paddle-boats and waterslides lie abandoned on the cracked bed of Vinuela reservoir, remnants of a rental business gone with the water, now at a critical level of 13%.

A neighboring restaurant fears a similar fate.

“The situation is quite dramatic in the sense that it’s been several years without rain and we’re hitting rock bottom,” owner Francisco Bazaga, 52 said. “If it doesn’t rain, unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is very, very dark.”

A prolonged dry spell and extreme heat that made last July the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961, have left Spanish reservoirs at just 40% of capacity on average in early August, well below the ten-year average of around 60%, official data shows.

“We are in a particularly dry year, a very difficult year that confirms what climate change scenarios have been highlighting,” Energy Minister Teresa Ribera told a news conference on Monday, underscoring also that the drought was propagating devastating wildfires.

Climate change has left parts of the Iberian peninsula at their driest in 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to diminish further, a study published last month by the Nature Geoscience journal showed.

The dry, hot weather will likely continue into the autumn, Spain’s meteorological service AEMET said in a recent report, putting further strain on Europe’s largest network of dammed reservoirs with a holding capacity of 5.6 billion cubic metres.

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At the Buendia reservoir east of Madrid, the ruins of a village and bathhouses have reappeared, caked in dried mud, Reuters drone footage showed, while at another dam near Barcelona a ninth-century Romanesque church has reemerged still intact, attracting visitors.