Salt Valley of Añana
Salt Valley (Valle Salado) is located in the town of Salinas de Añana (Basque Country), in northern Spain. The property covers an area of 13 hectares and is a unique and exceptional saline landscape. Recent archaeological research confirms that salt has been produced here continuously for over 6,500 years. Salt Valley is notable for its impressive structure, based on evaporation terraces built of dry stone, wood and clay, with wooden channels that transport the salt water by gravity from the springs to the wells; for its salt stores; and for its wealth of saline biodiversity.
The decline in production during the 20th century led to the deterioration of the cultural landscape. But the valley is now the centre of an ambitious comprehensive recovery project that includes not only the landscape, but also the architecture, and the salt industry and its traditions. The aims have been to preserve the distinctive material culture of the landscape to ensure its sustainability; to continue producing high-quality Añana Salt, using traditional techniques, maintaining the ancient “know how” of the salt workers; and not least, making the project self-financing through an effective sales policy.
The Jury was somewhat bowled over by the sheer scale of this project. It affects not only the landscape of an entire valley but also the economic life of its inhabitants, signifying the recovery of an industry that has been in business from remote times until very recently. The Jury noted that the export of the salt produced makes the Valley known in the most prestigious kitchens of not just the Basque Country but internationally. The skilled employment of restoration techniques, particularly in timber, were commented on.