The geographical area where the milk is produced and “Torta del Casar” cheese is made is in Cáceres, a province of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura (Spain), specifically in the districts of the Llanos de Cáceres, Sierra de Fuentes and Montánchez, in the southern-central area of the province. This area spans approximately 400,000 ha. And comprises 36 municipalities.
This area is characterised by being a semi-steppe plain with occasional elevations, bordering the River Tagus on the north and the San Pedro Mountain Range on the south. The climate is typically characterised by short mild winters and long hot summers with irregular rainfall concentrated in spring and autumn. The soil is thin with low productivity; nevertheless there are abundant short herbaceous plants of great nutritive value as well as bushes, holm oaks and cork trees.
The districts within the geographical limits of the Protected Designation of Origin “Torta del Casar” have been linked to migratory herding and shepherding since time immemorial, activities that are closely related and an integral part of this area.
The ancient migratory routes became entry points for different cultures such as the Phoenician, Roman and Arab. The Roman road know as the Vía de la Plata, which passes through these districts from north to south, bisecting Casar de Cáceres, has been used for centuries. Being regulated as an obliged route for herds in the Fuero Juzgo (Charter) and the regulations of the Honrado Concejo de la Mesta (Historic Association of Sheep and Cattle Farmers). The presence of established herds dates from that period and it is historically documented in 1291 in the Privilegio Real (Royal Concession) established by King Sancho IV where the village of Casar is granted a grazing terrain extending half a league around the then important municipality of Cáceres, so the farmers could freely let their cattle graze.
It is known that during that period the “Torta del Casar” was used as a mode of payment, although the first written record of the existence of this cheese dates from 1791, when Gregorio Sánchez de Dios stated that the cheese and the heads of sheep that produced it, paid tithes.
Hydrography: The system comprises the River Tagus and its affluents Almonte and Salor, as well as the sub-affluents Magasca, Ayuela and Guadiloba.
Flora and natural meadows: The flora is mainly composed of herbaceous plants, with grass, legumes and compound species of high nutritional value but small in size. There are also remains of tree and bush vegetation, especially in high areas, such as Spanish greenweed, gorse and trees of the Quercus family.
We can also highlight that this environmentally sensitive area has been declared “Special Protection Area for Birds” (ZEPA) by the Autonomous Government of Extremadura.