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

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. That was 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. That's Madrid's equivalent of New York's Times Square. And then they went past the Bank of Spain headquarters on their way to Retiro Park.

Children shrieked with joy. The sheep went from a trot to a gallop as they passed 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. The paths crisscross a landscape that was once a checkerboard of woodland and grazing space.

Some herding routes have been used annually for over 800 years. 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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COMMENTS (43)
  • Bradleyg-bra
    11/05/2014 - 08:04 a.m.

    I Think The Article Was Kind Of Wierd But It Was Pretty Funny The Way They Were Talking About Hamburgers and Sheep Costumes Its Cool That They Have Traditions About It

  • Hugh12345678901234567890123456
    11/05/2014 - 12:18 p.m.

    I think they want to keep their tradition of raising sheep as long as they can. If it was made by truck or train, it might not be such a defense against ancient grazing.

  • SherzongM-Saw
    11/05/2014 - 12:41 p.m.

    I wonder how many sheeps there are because if there is more than 100 sheeps I don't know what you are going to do with them.

  • Preston 27
    11/05/2014 - 12:44 p.m.

    Why would sheep just walk into a big city? They could all die by people. All those people would get some nice sheep meat and wool.

  • spencer98584
    11/05/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    Why are they putting 2000 sheep in one place just in defense of ancient grazing? Why are there markings on the sheep's fur? I would not want that many sheep.

  • dp2001blue
    11/05/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    why so many sheep its weird like say a tourist goes to spain and they see a bunch of sheep its crazy like what the heck

  • Sarahs-OBr
    11/05/2014 - 01:53 p.m.

    I don't think the shepherds wanted to take the sheep by truck or train. They were doing a demonstration on ancient grazing, they did not have car or truck in ancient times. I would like to see all that sheep walking across the streets. It would be a really cool field trip.

  • Calebh-Gil
    11/05/2014 - 03:19 p.m.

    The shepards are walking their sheep because it is a tradition. Since, it is a tradition the shepards are doing what ancient shepards did. They would go to the old town hall pay with old copper coins. then they would go down to Retiro Park. This I think is really cool.

  • kevik-4
    11/05/2014 - 06:32 p.m.

    In this article they talk about sheep that Rome around a city in spain. There are about eight hundred flocks of sheep around the city. This has been annually for 800 years. When king Henry was a king it was an important part of the empire. The flocks of sheep were called Madrid. This would be a cool thing to see in real life and I would be happy to see this. I would be a little creeped out to go see this because the sheep mite try to ram into me.

  • kevik-4
    11/05/2014 - 06:33 p.m.

    In this article they talk about sheep that Rome around a city in spain. There are about eight hundred flocks of sheep around the city. This has been annually for 800 years. When king Henry was a king it was an important part of the empire. The flocks of sheep were called Madrid. This would be a cool thing to see in real life and I would be happy to see this. I would be a little creeped out to go see this because the sheep mite try to ram into me.

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