The municipalities along the ancient Silver Route, the axis running 800 kilometers (500 miles across western Spain from Gijon in the north to Seville in the south, have proposed converting it into an attractive tour route for motorcyclists in the style of the legendary Route 66 in the United States.

The president of the Cooperation Network of Cities on the Silver Route, Gregorio Serrano, on Monday with the Spanish secretary of state for tourism, Isabel Borrero, signed a tourist promotion agreement for the route, which dates back to the 7th century B.C.

At that distant time, the natural corridor in the western portion of the Iberian Peninsula allowed the Tartessians to trade with the northern part of the central plateau.

It was the Romans who used the route to move into the northern part of the peninsula and who constructed a road that linked Emerita Augusta (Merida) with Asturica Augusta (Astorga), with two extensions leading to Seville and Gijon.

"Now we want to ... adapt it to the bikers. We have no pretensions that it will Route 66 in the U.S., but something more or less similar," Serrano, a Seville city councilman, told the press.

The aim is to present this new tourist product in January at the next International Tourism Fair in Madrid, said Serrano, adding that organizers want to reach cooperation agreements with oil giant Repsol and other companies.

The accord signed Monday includes promotional activities to strengthen the positioning of the Silver Route in the international tourism market in 2012.

The destinations and tourist products available along the route will be promoted with special emphasis on cultural, gastronomic and nature products, using local marketing campaigns, the social networks and assorted activities with travel agents and tour operators.

"We're 25 municipalities spanning approximately 800 kilometers, 100,000 square km (38,440 sq. mi.), seven provinces and four autonomous communities, with enviable monumental, gastronomic and artistic wealth," Serrano said.

Along with Seville and Gijon, other cities on the route include Leon, Zamora, Plasencia, Caceres, Zafra and Carmona. EFE