MADRID ( Associated Press) – The beats and bells of some 1,200 sheep and 200 goats were heard in central Madrid on Sunday morning as part of a celebration that recreates the pastoral practice of moving cattle to new pastures.
The animals were herd through the Spanish capital’s paved streets as they recreated a task performed by their ancestors for centuries: moving herds from the cold highlands in the summer to the winter pastures in the lowlands.
Spain’s bustling capital has always been part of a 125,000-kilometre (78,000 mi) network of agricultural roads that extends to the Iberian Peninsula.
Within the framework of the Transhumans Festival, the organizers make a symbolic payment for the right to use the livestock route that crosses Madrid. The payment presented to the Madrid City Council in medieval currency consisted of 50 marvedi, as recorded in an agreement between the city and the shepherds from 1418.
The close proximity of the animals pleased the urban dwellers who gathered to observe the curious ritual. The children tried to touch the soft wool of the sheep.
Madrid has celebrated the festival since 1994, and similar events take place in smaller towns and cities in Italy, France and California.
In Spain, modern farming methods have reduced the seasonal movement of transhumans, livestock, to a small group of farmers who keep the tradition alive through associations such as the Consejo de la Mesta, for the Transhumans Festival in Madrid. are responsible.
They promote transit for benefits such as sustainability, cultural value and environmental protection, as the areas through which sheep pass are less prone to wildfires.
According to the Trashumancia y Naturaleza Association, 52 families practice this practice in Spain.