Bon Pastor

Cases Barates on the Banks of the River Besòs

The earliest mentions of the area now occupied by Bon Pastor go back to the 12th century, when the man-made water course the Rec Comtal provided irrigation for local agriculture and running water to drive local mills.

Located on the edge of the Sant Andreu District of Barcelona, Bon Pastor is separated from Santa Coloma de Gramenet, to which it belonged until 1945, by the River Besòs.

The neighbourhood as we know it, though, really dates from 1929, when the Cases Barates, literally cheap houses, were built to house one of the early influxes of Spanish immigrants who came to find work in Barcelona.

Planned and constructed during the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, this estate of 784 small bungalows was called Milans del Bosch after one of the regime's generals.


Getting to Know Bon Pastor

The relative isolation of Bon Pastor, cut off from Sant Andreu by the railway line and rows of factories and separated from Santa Coloma by the River Besòs, over which there was no bridge until well into the 1970s, meant that the neighbourhood has always been something of a story unto itself.

New areas have been urbanised but the neighbourhood retains a distinct personality and with a mainly Spanish-speaking culture and a strong gitano presence, it's not surprising that it has been a cradle for flamenco, in general, and Rumba Catalana in particular.

About a decade ago, it was decided that the Cases Barates would be demolished, most are only 40 m2 in size, and replaced with modern blocks of flats.

However, the changes are taking away much of the neighbourhood's essential flavour and the process has been far from trouble-free with families having to be forcibly evicted from the old homes at times.

It seems that the definitive plans for the renovation of the neighbourhood change with each new Barcelona City Council and symptomatic of this is that a number of schools and the local market, Mercat del Bon Pastor, have been in temporary buildings for nearly a decade.

On a more positive note, the conversion of the old Maquinista Terrestre i Marítima factory into La Maquinista shopping centre has brought some dynamism to the neighbourhood and there are plans to demolish more factories and build more housing.

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