SHEEP replaced traffic on Madrid streets on Sunday with shepherds steering their flocks through the heart of the capital along ancient migration routes.
The annual event, which started in 1994, sees shepherds exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate their livestock from northern Spain to more southerly winter grazing pastures.
Modern farming methods have reduced the practice of transhumance – the seasonal movement of livestock – to a small group of farmers that keep the tradition alive through associations such as the Concejo de la Mesta, who are responsible for the Transhumance Festival in Madrid.
The route would have taken them through undeveloped countryside a few centuries ago, but today it cuts through Madrid’s bustling city centre and along some of its most famous roads.
Sheep farmers pay a nominal charge in symbolic acknowledgement of a 1418 agreement with the city council.
It works out at a fee of 50 maravedis- medieval coinage- per 1,000 sheep brought through the central Sol square and Gran Via.
The herd walking through on Sunday included 1,200 merino sheep and 200 goats.
PHOTOS: Cordon Press