Cáceres in Extremadura is an historical city famous for its 30 striking Arabic towers in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Cáceres.
The region of Cáceres can trace its history all the way back to prehistoric times with cave paintings in the Maltravieso Caves and a wealth of Paleolithic and Neolithic discoveries across the region. The city itself was founded by the Romans and was a stop on the famous Via de la Plata, the Silver Route which crossed Spain from Astorga to Seville. However, it was the Moors who brought wealth and splendour to the city when they made it a fortress in the 12th century and built the 30 Arabic towers that still stand today. Cáceres saw much fighting between the Christians and the Moors in the 12th century and eventually fell to the Christian Reconquest in 1227. Many nobles settled in the city and built the medieval palaces that, along with the Moorish towers, give the feel of walking through an open-air museum, the buildings almost untouched by modernity. The incredible preservation of the Old Town has led to its use as a filming location, most notably for Ridley Scott's 1992 film '1492: Conquest of Paradise' about the Discovery of America - which Cáceres itself played a large part in during the late 15th and 16th centuries.
The Old Town of Cáceres was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The 30 Moorish towers stand proudly around the city and the most famous, the Torre del Bujaco, is a square 25m high tower built in the 12th century on Roman foundations that is topped by battlements. From the 16th to the 18th century it was used as the clock tower and has some Renaissance stylings that were added in the 18th century. There are many medieval palaces to admire including the Palacio de Golfines de Abajo where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand once stayed, and the Palacio de Carvajal which houses the Tourist Office. Those interested in religious architecture will also find much to admire with several churches, the convent of San Pablo and the cathedral of Santa Maria all inside the Old Town. A Gothic cathedral with a Plateresque altarpiece, the cathedral of Santa Maria also has an attached museum of religious art. Don't forget to rub the feet of the statue of San Pedro de Alcantara for good luck. You can explore more of the history of the area at the Museum of Cáceres where you'll find archaeological discoveries from prehistory and the Romans, as well as an 11th to 12th century Moorish cistern, and fine arts pieces from the Prado museum.
Enjoy wandering around Cáceres' narrow streets and quiet plazas. The plaza de Santa Maria has a pretty Renaissance courtyard with a a 1,000 year old fig tree standing at its centre. Be sure to look up at the many tall buildings to admire their coats of arms and impressive carvings. There is plenty of greenery with parks such as the narrow park beside the Avenida de Espana, and the shady gardens of the Palacio de Carvajal with its stone benches where you can sit down and relax. Outside of the city are several natural areas that are protected conservation sites. The Sierra de Fuentes is nearest and is an area of gently sloping pasture land that has 2 reservoirs which are great for spotting aquatic birds. Further out, the Sierra de San Pedro is a special protection area for birds including the Iberian Imperial Eagle, the Eurasian Black Vulture and the Golden Eagle. Amongst its cork oaks, are also deer and wild boar. You canfollow a route that visits several dolmens, stone burial mounds, in the area. In April, Cáceres celebrates the fiesta de San Jorge where an effigy of a dragon is set on fire in the Plaza Mayor, with a fireworks display.
There are some great traditional shops in the Old Town selling local products such as sweets, cheeses and Extremadura wines. The convent of San Pablo is known for its homemade sweets, so be sure to pick up a box or two! Cáceres cuisine is based around pork, lamb and game dishes. Stews are popular as well as dishes such as migas, a mixture of breadcrumbs, bacon and chorizo; sopas canas, a thick soup made from milk, bread, garlic, paprika and oil; and ropaviejo, a dish of shredded beef in a tomato sauce. Goat's, sheep's and cow's milk cheeses are all made locally including torta del casar, a creamy sheep's milk cheese that is ripened with thistle, and is traditionally eaten by cutting off the top and scooping out the soft insides. Extremadura is famous for its full-bodied red wines, so be sure to try a glass from the local D.O. Ribera del Guadiana. The area is also known for its variety of liqueurs from the Jerte Valley including cherry (kirsch), raspberry and mulberry flavours.
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