Annual Sheep Parade in Madrid

The right to use droving routes that wind across land that was open fields and woodland before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great metropolis it is today has existed since at least 1273. Every year, a handful of shepherds defend the right and, following an age-old tradition, on Sunday paid 25 maravedis – coins first minted in the 11th century – to city hall to use the crossing. Shepherds have a right to use 78,000 miles of paths for seasonal livestock migrations from cool highland pastures in summer to warmer and more protected lowland grazing in winter. The movement is called transhumance and in Spain up until recently involved close to a million animals a year, mostly sheep and cattle.

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Children in traditional attire walk next to sheep during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. Shepherds parade the sheep through the city every year in order to exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate their livestock from northern Spain to winter grazing pasture land in southern Spain. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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Sheep are herded during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A girl reacts as sheep walk near her during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A police officer stands guard as sheep are herded during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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Women climb on a window to see the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A child looks at sheep during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A shepherd leads a herd during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A girl reacts as sheep run past her during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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A child touches the sheep during the annual sheep parade through Madrid November 2, 2014. (Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

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