The Salt Valley of Añana
Dating of the building: 6,700 BC – 20th century.
Applicant: Valle Salado de Añana Foundation.
Reason for the award :
The jury took into consideration the dimension of a project that not only affects a landscape but an entire valley and the lives of its inhabitants, producing the recovery of an industry that has existed from remote times until a few decades ago
One of the objectives of the Valle Salado de Añana Foundation is to produce with traditional techniques, sustainably and respecting the thousand-year-old know-how of the salineros, a high-quality salt whose sale is contributing to the self-financing of the project.
The Valle Salado is located in the town of Salinas de Añana in the province of Alava. On an area of 13 hectares it is a unique saline landscape. Recent archaeological investigations indicate that salt has been produced in this valley, uninterruptedly, for at least 6,700 years. The Valle Salado stands out for its impressive structure of stepped terraces built in stone, wood, and clay, with wooden channels that lead the saltwater by gravity from the springs to the wells, as well as for its salt stores and the richness of its saline biodiversity. The drop in production during the 20th century caused the deterioration of this cultural landscape.
Today, the valley is the centre of an ambitious comprehensive recovery project that includes not only the landscape but also the architecture, the salt industry, and its traditions. The objectives of this project have been to preserve the unique characteristics of this landscape to ensure its sustainability, to continue producing high-quality Sal de Añana, using traditional techniques, and maintaining the know-how of the salineros. With the opening to the public, the millenary legacy of the salt flats is preserved, their exploitation is again promoted as an economic activity, and the social and tourist development of the region is stimulated.
The recovery of this extraordinary heritage is linked to the execution of a Master Plan drawn up between 2000 and 2004 and to the establishment in 2009 of the Valle Salado de Añana Foundation, the sole owner of the valley since that date.