Travel Tips for Extremadura, Spain – Part Two

Caceres, SpainContinuing with travel tips for Extremadura

Trujillo is an interesting city. The old town has a Plaza Mayor with a unique shape, not quite circular or rectangular, and it has a statue of Francisco Pizarro who was born in Trujillo and went on to found Lima which is now the capital of Peru. The old town is full of cobble stone streets, old stone houses, and at the top of the hill you will find a castle that overlooks the town. It is worth the small hike up the hill to see the castle, which you can enter and walk through, including of course a few castle walls and towers. You can get great views from the castle walls of the city and the surrounding land. There are also numerous churches and cathedrals to see, but I think the main sights are the Plaza Mayor and the Castle.

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My last stop in Extremadura was the city of Cáceres. When driving to Cáceres, as you approach the city you see the old city which is surrounded by the ancient city wall. The medieval town is very much un-touched by modern accoutrements. I saw the main sites of the city in one day, although I would recommend spending more time there and I hope to return one day with more time to explore.

Cáceres has many steep cobble stone streets that are lined with old stone houses and small mansions and palaces. When you first enter the old town you can actually climb up certain portions of the ancient wall (a section right off of the Plaza Mayor is a great spot), something I always recommend doing when you have the chance! There are many churches to see as well. The San Francisco Javier Church sits at the top of a small square (of which there are many) and it has two bell towers that are painted white and create a striking image against the stone walls and houses of the city. There is also the Gothic Cathedral, Santa Maria Pro which has impressive rib vaults. There are also many towers and palaces which all have different symbols and coats of arms above the doors such as the Casa del Sol which has a sun symbol right above the door.

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Overall, with my one day visit I ran around the old town streets, peaked into the main churches, and visited a museum on the area. One day is certainly not enough time to see everything in Cáceres but it was a lovely day trip nonetheless.

The Extremadura region is certainly interesting and I highly recommend it. Seeing the land and the small towns, you get a feel for why so many conquistadores came out of this area. And for those that love to see castles, old fortresses, and medieval towns (as I do!) this is a great area! So hopefully you made it to the end of this blog post and it inspired you to see this remote area of Spain!

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More Information and links on Extremadura:

1 – For the official tourist sight for Extremadura click here.

2 – Caceres is a UNESCO World Heritage City.

3- For more tourist information about Caceres click here.

4 – To read more about the history of Trujillo click here.

Travel Tips for Extremadura, Spain – Part One

Guadalupe, SpainTravel tips and photography of Spain continues with Extremadura, a region of Spain that is recognized as the source of the conquistadores (explorers and settlers of America). Extramadura literally means “harsh and extreme land.” The land in the area is difficult to live off of and is no doubt what pushed the conquistadores to travel and settle elsewhere.

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I traveled to three of the main cities in Extremadura, all of which can be reached by car from Madrid.

But first a little history of the area… The main city in this region is Mérida. I do hope to visit Mérida at some point as there is a great Roman Amphitheatre to see and the wonderful National Museum of Roman Art.

Some of the most famous Spanish conquistadores (conquerors) came from Extremadura. A few of the most notable are:
–    Hernan Cortés – who explored Mexico and is one of the main perpetrators who caused fall of the Aztec Empire.
–    Francisco Pizarro – who conquered the Incan Empire and founded Lima, Peru.
–    Pedro de Valdivia – who founded Santiago, Chile.
–    Vasco Núñez de Balboa – who crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and founded the settlement of Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien in Colombia.

To read more about each conquistador and the region of Extremadura click here.

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The first stop on my trip to the region of Extremadura was Oropesa. The town is small and rather sparse but it has a lovely Parador, it is part of the town castle that was built in 1366 and was later restored in 1402. You can literally spend a night in a castle! The Parador is lovely and you can be the first one at the castle in the morning and climb the castle towers, walk along the castle walls, and explore the courtyards. For admission prices and visiting hours for the castle see travel tips below.

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From Oropesa I drove towards Guadalupe with a few detours into small towns known for their ceramics. These small towns have stores filled with stacks of hand-painted plates and bowls, flower pots, jugs, and more. And in one town I was invited to tour a small studio and watched as the craftsman painted a bowl with delicate flowers.

Guadalupe is located in the low mountains of the region. Guadalupe is home to a 13th century monastery that houses the shrine to “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and is the main site to see. The Royal Monastery of Guadalupe is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains many small museums and rooms of liturgical robes, illuminated manuscripts, paintings, and more. All of the rooms are impressive and the courtyard in the cloisters is magnificent, and of course you must see the patron saint of Extremadura, Our Lady of Guadaloupe.  I saw the monastery and church in a few hours and then drove on to Trujillo.

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Travel Tips:

1 – What to eat in Spain and tips for Vegetarians traveling in Spain: I recommend that in all these cities, when possible, have lunch and or dinner at the Paradores. The Paradores always serve excellent food! Plus they have a vegetarian option and it is hard for vegetarians to find a square meal in a restaurant in Spain but the Paradores are incorporating this into their menus and they are one of the few places you will find this option available. Go for the “menu del dia” option which includes an appetizer, an entrée, and desert and coffee for a flat price.

2 – For the official Paradores in Spain website click here.

3 – For more information about Oropesa castle with updated admission prices and hours click here.

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More Information and links on Extremadura:

1 – For the official tourist sight for Extremadura click here.