Centre Of Madrid Gives Way To Shepherd´s Delight

The Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida has been on hand today to receive the shepherds, cattle farmers, herdsmen and around a thousand sheep who arrived in the capital for Madrid´s 30th transhumance Festival.

This year’s celebration coincided with the 750th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Mesta Council which established the livestock routes across much of the Iberian Peninsula in the 13th century.

This was was also notable for being the first time a woman led the herd from Casa de Campo to Cibeles Square.

The Mesta Councul was established in 1273 by Alfonso X, known as El Sabio ( he has also been credited with the eating tradition of tapas) to protect and coordinate the passage of livestock  and especially of Merino sheep (whose wool was highly prized by the nobility) over common land.

It was made up of local groups of cattle farmers who divided territories, organized pastures, the routes for livestock transit, and the roads for their livestock´s movement to market which in turn led to the creation of the royal livestock trails, known as “cañadas reales,” which still exist in Spain to this day.

Traditional livestock routes in Spain going back to the Middle Ages

The city reaffirms its commitment to preserving the rich heritage which consists of some 125,000 kilometers of routes and 425,000 hectares of protected land for pasturing.

Madrid´s Calle de Alcalá was an important segment of the Cañada Real Galiana or Riojana, which brought livestock from the north to the capital.

In the Plaza de la Independencia, stone markers from the Cañada Real still stand as reminders of its pastoral history.

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