MADRID – Normally at this time of year, the centre of Madrid gets ready for a large influx of traffic. However, the transhumance traffic has 4 legs and not wheels!
The Fiesta de transhumance began in 1994 to pay homage to the area´s rural heritage. It uses a medieval rule which allows shepherds the right of way through the city with their animals. Madrid sits on an ancient migration route where shepherds historically moved their sheep to the north in the summer and south in time for winter.
The move to the north for the summer months took place in May this year.
Traditionally, farmers from the high mountains in the north of Spain move their livestock before the harsh winter sets in. They travel to the warmer areas in the southwest of Spain. Here they remain for the winter.
Each year, in Spring and Autumn, a ceremony takes place at the city hall between the mayor and the chief herdsman. A nominal fee is paid which allows the safe passage of the livestock through the city. The ruling dates to an agreement made in 1418 where the price of 50 coins per thousand livestock was the payment made for the traffic of the animals.
Nowadays, however, it is also a festival. Some herdsmen will wear traditional clothing. And many of the animals will have bells on to add to the somewhat noisy atmosphere. There are usually over 2,000 animals.
The event begins mid-morning from Casa de Campo Park. And from there, the livestock and their herders make their way to the city hall for the payment ceremony. They then continue their journey to spend the winter or summer.