You’ll be struck with an overwhelming sense of history and place as soon as you walk beneath the Arco de la Estrella entering Old Town Cáceres. Within its walls, time stands still. These walls, towers, palaces, convents and churches blend Roman, Moorish, Northern Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Stroll the cobbled streets, steep stairways, hidden patios and tiny gardens set among ancient towers and battlements. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life and truly savor Old Town Cáceres, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cáceres traces its origins to the Paleolithic period as evidenced by drawings on the walls of the nearby Maltravieso Cave. First founded by the Romans in 25 B.C. and later occupied by the Visigoths, the Arabs conquered the city in the 8th century. Alternating between Christian and Arab rule for centuries, the Torre de Bujaco was built along with many other towers and palaces. Later, the city experienced a renaissance following the discovery of the Americas when the wealthy built many more of the palaces, churches and convents that now feature prominently within Old Town Cáceres.
Plaza Mayor, Bujaco Tower, Star Archway
The town’s main square is the Plaza Mayor. Here you’ll find the aforementioned, Arco de la Estrella and Bujaco tower. The Plaza Mayor is the place to be! It’s full of unique shops, bars and restaurants. Stop to savor a mid-afternoon café or indulge at one of the many new taperías. The local culinary scene is influenced by Extremadura’s best-known specialties of cheese, olive oils and ham. The local charcuterie of choice is Montánchez ham made from the Iberico pig. If cheese is your pleasure, sample Torta del Casar, a sheep’s cheese along with a glass of Extremadura wine.
Jamón ibérico de bellota Dehesa de Extremadura 1 © Turismo de Extremadura
Take time to explore the Museo de Cáceres. The basement of this ancient structure is a Moorish cistern or Aljibe, one of the oldest in Europe. Prominently featured within the museum are artifacts of its rich history. Exhibits are dedicated throughout to each of the city’s most important periods; the Palaeolithic, the Copper Age, the Bronze Age, and the pre-Roman and Roman eras. Also featured is a particularly beautiful portrait of Christ by El Greco, El Salvador. Stunning! Not to be missed are works from contemporary masters such as Picasso, Miró, Clavé, Genovés, Guinovart, Guerrero, Lucio Muñoz, Barjola and Tàpies.
Cáceres 4 (aljibe árabe) © Turismo de Extremadura
A visit to this wonderous city is not complete without exploring one of its many beautiful palaces. The Ovando Palace built in 1519 is an excellent representation of palace architecture during the Renaissance. Be sure to check out the 16th century Toledo-Moctezuma palace, named for Isabel Moctezuma, daughter of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. For a real treat, book at stay at the Parador of Cáceres. Housed within the Palace of Torreoraz, its luxurious accommodations feature vaulted ceilings and antique furnishings.
Parador of Cáceres
Whatever your pleasure, Cáceres is sure to please! Travel back in time as you explore all this magical city has to offer.
For further information on Spain, contact the Tourist Offices of Spain.