Spanish shepherds guide 2,000 sheep across Madrid

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Spanish shepherds guide 2,000 sheep across Madrid
Shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat bells clanking its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid’s streets on Sunday 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 ovine parade to bleat _ bells clanking _ its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A man and his child look at sheep crossing through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat bells clanking its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
EDS NOTE - SPANISH LAW REQUIRES THAT THE FACES OF MINORS ARE MASKED IN PUBLICATIONS WITHIN SPAIN - Children watch as shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat bells clanking its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Sheep run by a fast food burger shop as they cross through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat, bells clanking, its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A man and his child look at sheep crossing through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat, bells clanking, its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Shepherds lead their sheep through the centre of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Shepherds have guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid streets 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 ovine parade to bleat, bells clanking, its way past the city’s most emblematic locations. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through the city center to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered towards the Puerta de Alcala gate to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through the city center to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through the city center to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through the city center to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: People take pictures of two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: People take pictures of two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: A shepherd stands near two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: People take pictures of two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: People take pictures of two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: People take pictures of two thousand sheep mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 2: Two thousand sheep are mustered through the city center to mark the seasonal migration of people with their livestock to south for their winter grazing and and to commemorate ancient paths of migration during Fiesta de la Transhumancia (Transhumance Festival) in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2014. (Photo by Evrim Aydn/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through central Madrid to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02: Sheep are mustered through the city center to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of migration (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures) dating back some 8,000 years on November 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Two thousand sheep passed through the city centre joined by shepherds, marking the annual livestock migration festival which has taken place in the Spanish capital since 1994. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) -- Shepherds guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid's streets on Sunday 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 25 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 toniest 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.

Migrating Sheep Stroll Through Madrid

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