October in Madrid

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Transhumance Festival Madrid (Fiesta de la Trashumancia)

October in Madrid

Sheep. In the middle of Madrid! Imagine two thousand merino sheep roaming the capital city.

This is an annual autumn event (since 1994) and held every October. This festival serves as a reminder of the centuries-old importance of livestock in Spain.

Transhumance involves the transporting or moving of livestock by shepherds and cattlemen from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer. This centuries old tradition of livestock migration.

The regular route includes Calle Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Calle Alcalá or Puerta de Cibeles and some other routes in Madrid. This is a day where traffic noise is traded for tinkling bells and calls of the shepherds.

The final act of this festival inclues a ceremony at Puerta de Cibeles  where a traditional symbolic payment in the form of 50 maravedís al millar*. This is paid by the transhumance shepherds, who have come from different parts of Spain, to the Madrid City Council in order for the flocks to cross the streets of the capital.

*maravedís al millar –  Spanish currency, made of various Iberian coins of gold and silver and eventually copper. Used between the 12th and19th Centuries.  50 coins per thousand heads—the payment amount established in 1418 for crossing the city.

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