Travel to Cáceres
In the west of Spain, in Extremadura, Cáceres with its medieval town surrounded by ramparts and towers of Arab origin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside the antiguo bario, the historic district, the cobbled streets are lined with ancient fortified houses, gothic mansions and Renaissance palaces. In the centre, we discover the Plaza Mayor, also called Plaza Santa Maria, presided over by the eponymous church serving as a cathedral since the 16th century.
Nearby is the Carvajal Palace, which with its Renaissance patio is now occupied by the Turismo de la Diputación, the Provincial Tourist Office. Not far away, the Mayoralgo Palace and the Episcopal Palace with a 13th century facade stand out.
The Casa de las Veletas, the Palazzo de les Golfines, the tower of Bujaco and the Arc de l’ Etoile complete the many monuments of the city that have contributed to these recognitions.
On the historical Vía de la Plata used by pilgrims on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, Cáceres, a regional tourist centre that cannot be ignored, is an ideal place to taste the local gastronomy in which pork and its derivatives sprinkled with the wines of Cáceres emerge, among others.
Visit and monuments of Cáceres
This is one of the largest squares in Spain. Originally built to host an annual fair, it was lined with arcades resting on stone pillars with arches in the 15th century. One of the main gates to the Plaza Mayoy is El Arco de la Estrella, the Arc de l’ Etoile near the old Bujaco tower.
Bujaco is an Arab tower of square plan whose name derives from Abu-Yaqub, whose troops conquered the city. It then served as a defensive stronghold for the knights of Santiago whose order had been established in the city by Fernando II de León after he had regained it.
Its name changed in the 16th century to Tour de l’ Horloge, it now houses the interpretation centre of the three cultures.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and then from 4pm to 7pm (17h30-20h30 in the afternoons from June to September.
Admission: 2,50 €, free for children.
Ark of Christ
Set in the ramparts, this arch is the only one of Roman origin that has survived to this day. Built in the 1st century, it was built of dressed stone and has a semicircular vault between the two entrance and exit arches.
Calle de Orellana.
This gothic tower leaned against the house of Saavedra which was built in the 14th century. The building has two openings, one of which is on the east facade and decorated with the Aldana family’s five fleur-de-lys coat of arms. The Sandes tower now houses a restaurant.
Museum of Cáceres
Plaza las Valetas, 1.
The museum of Cáceres is divided into two adjoining buildings: the Palais des Girouettes, also known as the House of Vane and the House of Horses, which dates from the 16th century.
Covering a period from the Palaeolithic to the present day, the museum houses testimonies of the life of the region’s first inhabitants as well as more contemporary works.
Bronze age stelae, treasures with oriental scents, verracos, pork carved stones from the Iron Age, Roman mosaics and a collection of 20th century Spanish art.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 2.30pm and from 4pm to 7pm (17am to 8pm in the afternoons from mid-June to mid-September. Sundays and holidays from 10am to 3pm.
Admission: 1,20 €. Free for members of the European Union.
Church of Santa María Co Cathedral of Cáceres
Santa Maria Plaza.
Built in the 13th century in a Gothic style, the oldest of its facades, the so-called Gospel facade, dates from the earlier Romanesque construction. The vaults of the cathedral are crossed by ribs, the choir and pulpit in Gothic style, while the altarpiece of the main altar displays a Plateresque style as the door to the sacristy that opens onto the diocesan museum. The centrepiece of the cathedral is a crucified black Christ.
Opening hours: every day from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm (18h-21h in the afternoons from May to September.
Admission: 1 €, visit of the bell tower: 2 €.
Museum of History and Culture Casa Pedrilla
Ronda from San Francisco.
The Casa Pedrilla museum exhibits the works and testimonies of the most prominent artists of Cáceres. A historical section offers a journey through the history of Extremadura from prehistoric times to the present day. The adjoining Guyasamín house has a collection of pre-Columbian and colonial art by the painter and sculptor Oswaldo Guayasamín.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm, Sundays and public holidays from 11am to 2pm. From mid-June to mid-September: Monday to Friday from 9am to 2:30pm. Free admission.
Maltravieso Cave Interpretation Centre
Avenida de Cervantes.
It is not possible to enter the cave in order to preserve it. The interpretation centre allows visitors to discover its interior with models and video projections in which some sixty human hands are presented, the outlines of which have been drawn with reddish pigments.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 3pm, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 3pm.
75 km north of Cáceres.
On the Route de la Plata, Plasencia, which occupies a strategic position on the banks of the River Jerte, was first inhabited by the Romans and then the Arabs before being reconquered by King Alfonso VIII in the twelfth century.
In the fifteenth century, the regional nobility who settled there will line it with palaces, seigniorial residences and religious buildings. From the medieval past of the old town remains vestiges of walls, large towers and gates such as the Puerta del Sol or the potern of Santa María.
The Plaza Mayor is of course the must-see meeting place of the city, especially during the Martes Mayor festival, which is classified as a tourist attraction.
Special feature of Plasencia: its two cathedrals, the old and the new. The border position of Plasencia between Christians and Muslims meant that the artistic styles entered Extremadura late on. Thus, the Catetdral Vieja has a Romanesque style despite its 13th century construction. The Catedral Nueva has many Gothic and Renaissance elements such as the choir and vaults. The Cathedral Museum houses the’ Wedding of Cana’, a 16th century Gothic painting on wood.
Among the civil buildings are the palaces of the Monroy family, or the Romanesque palaces of Las dos Torres, which welcomed illustrious guests such as Ferdinand the Catholic or Pedro de Alcántara.
Mongragüe National Park
At the gates of Cáceres.
Located a few kilometres from Cáceres, the Mongragüe Park is home to a Mediterranean-type wooded area which is considered one of the best preserved in Europe.
The park is surrounded by mountains and dotted with rivers, lakes and steep rocky massifs in which we discover mainly oak groves and scrublands that favour the development of a varied fauna.
100 km north of Cáceres.
Enclaved on the ancient Roman road of La Plata, Galisteo is situated in the valley of Alagón about twenty kilometres southwest of Plasencia. Classified as a Historic Site, the town served as a relay for travellers at a time when the Romans called it Rusticiana.
The walls of Almohad origin that surround the city are among the most emblematic and surprising of Extremadura. This particular aspect comes from the fact that they were erected in the 13th century with rounded or cylindrical pebbles taken from a tributary of the Alagón River. Inside there is an elegant medieval Mudéjar-style building and an apse, both adjoining the parish church Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
35 km northwest of Plasencia, 110 km from Cáceres.
Do not miss the spectacle of this valley of Jerte when at the end of March its cherry trees are in bloom. Cherry blossom festival, exhibitions and tastings of regional products, popular dances and folk groups on the menu of the festivities dedicated to this fruit.
These take place, depending on the flowering season, during the second half of March. Be sure to check in advance to book accommodation in one of the rural casas, rural gîtes, which are scattered throughout the region.
65 km northwest of Cáceres.
On the banks of the Tagus and the dam that bears his name, Alcántara, which has spread over the foothills of the Sierra de San Pedro de Gata, is endowed with an important historical heritage inherited from its position on the border with Portugal.
The Alcántara dam is surrounded by cork and holm oak forests. Its body of water offers many nautical activities and hiking or horseback riding trails. As for the banks of the neighbouring Tagus, it is a very popular spot for anglers.
The Roman bridge that has spanned the Tagus since the 2nd century is one of the most important constructions in the province of Cáceres. Composed of 6 arches, this structure is 200 metres long and 60 metres high.
For a long time the frontier between the kingdoms of León and the Muslim kingdoms, the city was under the control of military orders, including here, from the Middle Ages to the 13th century, that of Alcántara which will leave many buildings in the city.
50 km east of Cáceres.
Like other cities in Extremadura such as Jerez de los Caballeros or Medellín, Trujillo was the birthplace of many explorers from the 15th century onwards, including Francisco de Pizarro who discovered Peru.
This situation has marked the city with a beautiful architectural and monumental ensemble of churches, castles, palaces and manor houses that revolves around the Plaza Mayor and is also listed as a property of cultural interest.
Of Roman origin, Turgalium was later Visigothic then under Muslim domination for five centuries. The city developed remarkably during this period, and it was after its reconquest and especially in the 16th century that it reached its splendour thanks to its important role in the discovery of the Americas.
The city’s neighbourhoods are distinguished by the medieval city of Arab origin and the 15th and 16th century “city”. It is around the social heart of the city, the Plaza Mayor, in the cobblestone streets that the Conquistadores and families of the regional nobility settled. The palace of the Counts of San Carlos (XVIth century) and the palace of the Marquis de Piedras Albas are examples of Renaissance buildings built during this period.
The Santa María church (XIIIrd – 16th century) of the city is considered to be the most beautiful example of Trujillo’s Romanesque style.
Dominating Trujillo, the Arabian castle built during the Caliphate of Cordoba is still distinguished by its magnificent watchtowers and the two cisterns sheltered in the courtyard of the medieval fortress.
130 km east of Cáceres.
In the heart of the Sierra eponymous, Guadalupe is a historical village with cobbled streets bordered by traditional mountain houses.
Classified as a historical and tourist site, the locality is home to the sanctuary-monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, listed as an INESCO heritage site. Built in the 14th century by order of Alfonso XI of Castile in recognition of his victory at the Battle of Salado in 1340, the monastery quickly became one of the important pilgrimage sites of the Iberian Peninsula.
It is also in this village that Christopher Columbus was received in audience by the Catholic Kings when they granted him the caravel necessary for his great journey to India.