The European Commission and Europa Nostra recognise the Valle Salado, or Salt Valley, as an “innovative example of integrated restoration of heritage”
The Añana Salt Valley has won the top prize for cultural heritage awarded in Europe. The jury highlighted the “impressive scale of the project, taking in landscape, architecture and the environment, as well as the salt industry and its traditions.”
The salt pans of Añana, located very near Vitoria-Gasteiz, are a unique place, where salt is extracted by evaporation and the exploitation of this essential part of human life is thought to go back 6,500 years.
The terraces on which the water is kept for natural evaporation, known as “eras”, are fed by gravity from the salt springs via hand-dug canals constructed using stone, wood and clay, creating a distinctive landscape with the terraces laid out like a maze.
The prize awarded to the Salt Valley recognises not only the special attractions of the place but also the international profile it has earned thanks to work to restore the site as a whole, as well as boosting the salt business itself, which now markets its product in more than 25 countries.