Lifestyle & Belief

Madrid: Sheep take over streets in defense of grazing (PHOTOS)

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Sheep are mustered through the center of Madrid on October 28, 2012. Shepherds herded hundreds of sheep to the capital to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years. Thousand of sheep pass through the city center, joined by cows and shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994.

Credit:

DANI POZO

Around 2,000 sheep made their way across central Madrid as shepherds defended ancient grazing rights.

The Associated Press reported that the right to use droving routes that were once open fields and woodland before Madrid became a modern city has existed since 1273.

According to the ancient right, shepherds can use 78,000 miles of paths for seasonal migrations of livestock from cool highlands in the summer to grazing lowlands in the winter.

The AP noted that movement is called transhumance, and until recently involved close to a million animals a year in Spain.

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Jesus Garzon, the president of a shepherds council established in 1273, told The Daily Telegraph that around 5,000 sheep and 60 cattle crossed the city on Sunday.

The age-old tradition involves shepherds paying 25 maravedis, coins first minted in the 11th century, to utilize the crossing.

Madrid falls in the middle of two north-south routes, according to The Telegraph. "For the past 18 years shepherds have halted traffic in autumn to assert their rights to cross the city," it said.