It's Willy Wonka meets the Yellow Brick Road - but Las Palmitas' facelift is more than just aesthetic

Melbourne laneways, eat your heart out: the hillside town of Las Palmitas in Pachuca, Mexico, has taken public murals to a whole new level. The 200 homes in the neighbourhood have swapped their faded facades for a kaleidoscope of colour, with every surface - from the city streets to the rooftops - covered in more than 20,000 litres of rainbow paint.

Before the radical facelift, Las Palmitas was the kind of area a guidebook would probably warn you against - home to more than its fair share of gang members, not safe after dark and not advisable to wander around alone in.  But after artists' collective The German Crew spent 14 months working with the locals to transform their town, change is in the air.  

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Just ask project director and former gang member Enrique Gomez, who told The Guardian he never thought it would have such a big impact. "Honestly, what surprises me the most is that people are really changing," Gomez said. "They are growing - there is more community spirit. People are taking the security of their neighbourhood into their own hands."

All this and the project isn't even finished  - there are still 1500 square metres of streets left to be painted and plans are already underway to move onto the neighbouring town of Cubitos.

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