Can Masdeu (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkam məzˈðew]) is a squatted social centre, residence and community garden in the Collserola Park on the outskirts of Barcelona. A former leper hospital which had been abandoned for some 53 years before its eviction, the squat became famous in 2002, when squatters in lockons and on tripods nonviolently resisted the eviction.
During a three-day standoff, police were unable to remove the squatters, resulting in the case returning to the courts. After three years, the case was won by the owners, but no eviction notice has since been issued. Most Sundays there is an open house and from 100 to 300 people come up to participate in activities related to ecology, activism, and self-sufficiency.
Grounds and Location and Early History:
The grounds governed by the squat include almost a hectare of land in use as gardens, an abandoned nunnery and hospital facility and about 15 hectares of mostly hilly forests. The building spans four floors and is draped over the side of a hill. It includes 24 different rooms of various sizes including a large hall. Can Masdeu is located up the hill from the Canyelles L3 Metro station in Barcelona. There is a sign for it before the 0,5 km walk up a dirt road to the site.
The building was built on an ancient Roman site, and was surrounded by vineyards before the city expanded into Nou Barris. Of the existing structure, first the temple (masia) was completed in the 17th century. In the early 20th century the living units, common space and kitchen were added. After functioning as a nunnery for some years, the facility was converted into a leper hospital. It was ultimately shuttered and abandoned in 1948. Fear of leprosy may have been a factor in this large facility being left vacant for over half a century.
As of 2008, more than 28 people live in and share the house. Community participation includes bi-weekly meetings, organic gardening, housework, and two collective meals per day, and each member contributes roughly 55 euros/month to food costs. The working languages of the house are Catalan and Spanish, but as it is an international group, English, Italian, French, Basque, and Esperanto are also spoken.
The community hosts some guests who are either friends of the community or involved in service projects or movements which the community supports. The community receives far more requests to host people than it has the capacity to provide. Unlike most squats and even intentional communities, Can Masdeu has quite low turn over, with no new vacancies over the last 2 years (2007 and 2008).