Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep
Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep Shepherds lead their sheep through the center of Madrid, Spain (AP photos)
Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep
Lexile: 1370L

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Shepherds guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid's streets on Sunday. It was a demonstration in defense of ancient grazing, droving and migration rights increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

Tourists and city-dwellers were surprised to see the capital's traffic cut to permit the bleating, bell-clanking parade to pass the city's most emblematic locations.

Shepherds halted at the old town hall so the chief herdsman could hand authorities 10 maravedies copper coins first minted in the 11th century as payment for the crossing.

They then continued past Puerta del Sol Madrid's equivalent of New York's Times Square and past the Bank of Spain headquarters on their way to Retiro Park.

Children shrieked with joy as the sheep went from a trot to a gallop past a hamburger restaurant and luxury jewelry store in the city's downtown quarter.

Since medieval times, shepherds have had the right to use droving paths crisscrossing a landscape that was once a checkerboard of woodland and grazing space.

Some herding routes have been used annually for over 800 years and Madrid sprawls across one dating back to 1372. Madrid became an important urban center when King Philip II chose it as the capital of his vast empire in 1561.

The herd was accompanied by musicians and dancers dressed in regional costumes that have been worn by rural workers for centuries.

Spaniards are proud of their sheep-rearing traditions and hold native livestock in high esteem. The Merino breed has gone on to form the backbone of important wool industries in places such as Australia and South America.

Critical thinking challenge: Instead of walking the sheep, why dont these shepherds transport the sheep by truck or train?

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Assigned 15 times

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    11/05/2014 - 02:42 p.m.

    Watching two thousand sheep walk through I major city must have been a very interesting experience. I think it is cool how all the sheep stick together instead of spreading apart and going their own way. People in the States don't get to see things like this too often because she are kept in fences where we live.

  • JacobM-5
    11/05/2014 - 11:26 p.m.

    This article is about some herders taking there herd of sheep across the capital of Spain Madrid. When they cross the big city everybody watches as this herd of sheep crosses the city. The citizens then remember the past of Spain and how they use to herd in the past and they are proud of it. I think this story is interesting because the reactions of the citizens isn't very shocking to this big event.

  • BAlyssa-Sti
    11/06/2014 - 10:57 a.m.

    Why did do they have numbers on them? Did the sheep owner let them do that so the kids would have fun?? Do they do this all the time????? Is it fun?? Do they do this often??

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    11/06/2014 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think that it is a really cool idea to herd sheep through the town. I can just imagine how the little kids acted. I remember one time when i was with my little brothers and my dad. We were on our way to Blain, when all of a sudden, there was a huge herd of cows running on the street. William and Erek were laughing and screaming that they wanted to pet them. It was a really funny day.

  • tedqweishaw
    11/06/2014 - 03:46 p.m.

    the sheeps was overrunning everything the capitals traffic cut to permit the bleating they passed many restaurants some herding routes have been used annually for over 800 years the herd was accompained by musicians they went everywhere sheeps mess up everything.

  • SoleilE-5
    11/06/2014 - 11:43 p.m.

    In Madrid, Spain, shepherds led 2,000 sheep across Puerta del Sol, a busy city. The crossing caused much surprise and excitement. The sheep were accompanied by dancers and musicians. The procession included many ancient traditions and reenacted some history. The event was meant to remind people of their culture with deep roots in sheep-rearing traditions and to raise awareness of building over important ancient sites.
    I think the sheep herding was a great idea to get people more interested in their culture. The procession must have been very eye catching and entertaining. I believe the action did its job of reminding people of their culture and making the point not to build over it.

  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    11/10/2014 - 12:20 p.m.

    It seems that people of Spain were more taking advantage of the situation rather than being in terror, which is a good thing, so that most likely no one got hurt.

  • darbyd-Koc
    11/15/2014 - 11:34 p.m.

    What an...interesting article. But, good for the shephards for standing up for something they believe in. I'm sure it was very entertaining to see though.

  • tcarcamobustos
    11/16/2014 - 09:00 p.m.

    Article talks about the parade that sheep made last Sunday in Madrid, Spains capital. It was more than 2000 sheep who walked in the streets like a demonstration in defense of ancient grazing and migration rights and modern agricultural practices.
    In Spain sheeps are very important and there are a lot of traditions in each place of the country.
    Also the article talks about the history of Spain in relation with sheep and how Madrid became an important urban center when King Philip II chose it as the capital of his empire.

    I think that everybody should make something similar and give animals the respect or the importance that they have in each country. Maybe its a funny way to do it but its also different and very creative.
    Here in Chile we can do those sort of things more often and show animals how much we respect them.

  • MEdgar-Sti
    12/23/2014 - 09:53 a.m.

    I think that is a cool and scary because if your a tourist i don't think they want to see that. I think that's like when they release the bull and and people run. but i think that is less safe.

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