Pan Bendito is a small pentagonal barrio in east Carabanchel, 6km from Sol. The name originates from the wheat fields on which it was built in 1963 to accommodate rural Spanish migrants who had arrived during Madrid’s industrial boom in the decades before. They’d previously been living in one of Madrid’s 30,000 shantytowns and vertical slums.
Aerial photograph of Pan Bendito, 1954 © Geoportal
The working-class barrio was conceived as provisional short-term housing to accommodate a population growth spurt. By 1998, Pan Bendito had a metro station (L11) and all original blocks had been demolished. New, larger housing units were completed for residents, comprising mid- to high-rise blocks with communal gardens surrounded by wide, mostly pedestrianised streets, and large overground parking areas.
Today, Pan Bendito has a high-density population of around 11,000, 47% are men and 53% women. Compared to Madrid, the barrio has a higher proportion of young people and a lower proportion of men over 65. The community is characterised by a high level of dependency with a high rate of people over 65 who live alone – especially women.
Aerial photograph of Pan Bendito, 1978 © Geoportal
One in five residents of Pan Bendito are from another country. The largest foreign population is from Romania, followed by Morocco, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and China. Around a third of the Spain-born population of Pan Bendito is Gitano.
There are two schools and various sports facilities in the area. Peripheral green spaces shelter the barrio from the noise, heat and pollution of the surrounding motorways but are mostly neglected and overgrown with weeds. A budget of €300,000 was allocated in May 2022 to repair these green spaces, but nothing appears to have materialised.
The central, pedestrianised streets of Pan Bendito receive the lowest level of cleaning in the city – a level very few Madrid streets are allocated.
Cleaning level red and purple (lowest) of Pan Bendito, 2023 © Geoportal
In the 2023 general and municipal elections, Pan Bendito had low voter turnout but voted mostly for left-wing parties. It is an island of deep red. The average annual income is €9450, the lowest 2% in Spain.
Pan Bendito has the lowest life expectancy in Madrid. It remains one of the most stigmatised barrios in the city and experiences deep institutional abandonment.
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