• Los Molinos The spectacular (and unknown) flowering that dyes the Sierra de Guadarrama yellow
  • Guadalajara Flavorful getaway between the spectacular Dulce and Salado rivers

We are what we eat. There are landscapes that have always fed us. Unique and singular agricultural spaces that offer the traveler an experience that goes beyond what appears in the guides. In Spain we treasure five landscapes recognized by the FAO as World Agricultural Heritage of the 74 that have been recognized worldwide. We are the third country with the highest number, after China and Japan.

These Sipam territories (Important World Agricultural Heritage System) are the Añana Salt Valley (Álava), the cultivation of raisins in La Axarquía (Malaga), the millenary olive trees of the Sénia Territory (Tarragona, Teruel and Castellón), the historical irrigation system of the orchard of Valencia and, since last year, the agrosilvopastoral system of the Mountains of León.

They are united by the fact that they are all currently threatened by many factors, such as climate change and increasing pressure on natural resources. And they are also united by the desire to create an alternative tourism offer that values their heritage and helps them overcome their challenges. These are some of the cultural and enogastronomic and nature experiences that go beyond the usual tourist proposals.

the heroes of LA AXARQUÍA

The hands of a farmer with the Muscatel grape. FAO-GIAHS

The pasero territory of the Axarquía is an impressive landscape of the interior of Malaga where for centuries the muscatel has been cultivated in impossible places. We are talking about a heroic viticulture that hides some of the treasures of our gastronomy: the raisin grapes from Malaga and its renowned wines. The best thing is that the traveler can check it for himself.

The tourist experiences of the association Sipam Uva Raisin de Málaga in La Axarquía include defying gravity in the same vineyard feeling like a winegrower for a day. They also invite visitors to enter one of their artisanal wineries to taste their unique wines or sit in an inn to taste the typical cuisine of the region. There is much to see in the area: from the round cemetery of Sayalonga to the white village of Moclinejo that keeps its traditions alive, passing through the Museum of Arts and Customs of Cómpeta.

Muscat grape cultivation in the Axarquía of Malaga. FAO-GIAHS

The production of raisins from Malaga was the first Sipam in Europe to achieve such a distinction. Like the rest of the territories, it combines biodiversity, tradition and innovation. They are resilient ecosystems, as we can see in the salt flats of Añana, next stop.

The Salt Valley of Añana

A salt worker removes salt in Añana (Vitoria). FAO-GIAHS

The oldest salt flats in the world are hidden in the Salt Valley of Añana, Álava. They draw an unusual landscape formed by thousands of crystallization eras, canals, wells and warehouses. It is also a place managed sustainably because, as it has been for millennia, salt production has no choice but to adapt to the rhythm of nature.

The salt valley offers experiences for everyone. It is very interesting to sign up for the sensory walk (a very special version of forest bathing) between the white salt eras. Children and adults can (and should) put their feet in the saline spa. Expert salt masters show their work and, if you dare, you can try to emulate them and earn your salary. Foodies will not be disappointed in any way, on the contrary, in the Almazen restaurant, just in front of the salt flats.

The Orchard of Valencia

A farmer walks between ditches in the orchard of Valencia.FAO-GIAHS

We now travel to the heart of Mediterranean gastronomy. Nothing would be possible without their historical cultivation techniques. In particular, irrigation, a hydraulic system that began to be drawn at the beginning of the Arab domination in the area and that has been shaping the unique landscape of L'Horta. The diversity is obvious when we enter by boat through the Albufera Natural Park, full of waterfowl, among the rice fields. It is worth doing a workshop of authentic Valencian paella cooked with wood and try artisan horchata in an authentic Valencian farmhouse.

More proposals? There is no need to visit the page of Valsipam, the pioneering project of the enhancement of these agricultural heritages until this year where all tourism initiatives still meet.

The productive mosaic of the orchard of Valencia.FAO-GIAHS

the millenary olive trees of SÉNIA

They are amazing trees, with a trunk that requires several people to hug it. And they are very, very old: more than a thousand years. Moreover, the Senia Territory, where the Valencian Community, Catalonia and Aragon converge, has the highest concentration of millenary olive trees in the world. How many? A whopping 6,500 olive trees sculpted by time that today produce about 12,000 tons of oil.

Thousand-year-old olive tree near Ulldecona, in the rural territory of La Sénia.SHUTTERSTOCK

The possibilities of practicing oleotourism are many in this landscape composed of 37 municipalities. From participating in the olive harvest at the time to enjoying a peasant breakfast in the countryside. You can also visit museums, mills, oil mills... Or, simply, go out by bike to enjoy the scenery.

Grazing in the Mountains of León

According to the FAO definition, "GIAHS are agroecosystems inhabited by communities that live in an intrinsic relationship with their territory." In the Sierra de León, where forestry and livestock knowledge has been passed on for centuries contributing to the livelihood of its peoples, we have a good example. This agrosilvopastoral landscape has been the last Spanish territory designated as World Heritage. Chestnut trees, beech trees, birches, junipers, oak groves, pastures and areas for cultivation, forestry, livestock, gathering, hunting and fishing make up this rural universe to discover.

The shepherd and his flock in the Leonese region. FAO-GIAHS

In total. the Sierra de León has seven biosphere reserves, the place with the largest of these spaces in the world (including the Picos de Europa, Babia or the Laciana Valley); native species, such as the Brown Rooster or the bovine species Mantequera Leonesa; and thirteen food quality seals that include delicacies such as cecina de León and cherries from Bierzo. All together is a mine for experience tourism.

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