Mesta Livestock trails

Date of Submission: 27/04/2007
Criteria: (v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Autonomos Community of Castilla y Leon
Ref.: 5128
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The practice of transhumance livestock raising in Spain gave rise to a road network for cyclical migrations along livestock trails (given different names depending on the country in question) which are of unique material and cultural value. In the case of Spain they are called cañadas, cordeles and veredas depending on their width, and have been maintained, originally by the Mesta livestock farming guild created in the year 1273 and today by Laws. They comprise a tight-knit network of interconnected roads in the form of "communicating vessels", 125,000 kilometre of which still exists today. In addition to their traditional use by livestock farmers, this network of livestock trails is cultural heritage of the highest consideration given the ecological, artistic, historic and social wealth surrounding these public domain sites.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The network of Spanish cañadas dates back to antiquity and has been regulated by laws enacted by public authorities since the Middle Ages up to the present time. Today it is safeguarded by protective regulation (Section 24-b-II) laid down in the Livestock Trail Act, Law 3/1995 of 23 March 1995.

Generally speaking, the original itineraries have been maintained owing to, inter alia, the fact that transhumance is still practiced today in Spain.

Comparison with other similar properties

Throughout the Mediterranean area, these livestock trails are known by different names and vary in width but Spain has the most extensive and best conserved network. It would also be fair to say that their importance is comparable to that of the historic routes of the Iberian Peninsula: The Silver Route and the Route of Santiago de Compostela.