There´s no sound of gunfire or exploding bombs. No smoke or smell of death lingers in the air. But the feeling you get when you step foot here is that you´re entering a warzone Ruins, rubble and desolation dot the bleak landscape that is said to be Europe´s largest shanty town: the Cañada Real Galiana.
The settlement is a 16km-long, 75m-wide strip of economic and social misery.
Known as the “Town of Shame”, La Cañada is situated just 15 minutes from the center of a city that is considered one of the most habitable in the world: Madrid.
It sprang up in the 60´s from the illegal occupation of a cattle route, classified as public domain of the Communty of Madrid, and the edification of illegal buidings (ranging from luxury chalets and warehouses to shacks and trailers) and has steadily grown to become home to around 11.000 people.
Many of its inhabitants are longstanding residents, gypsies and legal immigrants from Portugal, Romania, Morocco or South America, but in recent years drug clans and several mafias have taken control of parts of La Cañada.
Once their houses are demolished, there is no mechanism to rehouse the homeless,
just a maximum of three nights accommodation in an emergency center.
After that, they are on the street.