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Guide to Caceres
Caceres is a medieval Spanish university city in the region of Extremadurain the south-west of Spain. The city can be reached by either flying to Madrid then driving down the A5 motorway or Seville then down the A66 motorway.
The city is well known for its university, University of Extremadura, and the home town of the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.
The weather is blistering hot in the summer with temperatures reaching 40oC in Summer and cool in winter with temperatures around 10oC.
The city has a population of around 95,000.
Caceres was founded by the Romans in 25BC where it became a strategic and thriving town. After the fall of the Roman Empire Caceres fell under the control of the Visigoths.
The conquest by the Arabs in the 8th Century began a Jewish golden age after the repression by the Visigoths. The city was rebuilt by the Arabs. After the conquest by Christian forces in 1229 the importance of the Jewish population to the city continued.
The city changed radically with the arrival on the throne of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. They expelled the Jewish population and after the discovery of the Americas wealth flooded into the city. Many families and nobles who took part in the conquest of the Americas became important within Spain and hugely wealthy.
As the power of Spain waned so did the importance of Caceres.
To See and Do in Caceres
There is no reason to go beyond the beautiful old town in Caceres. The best way to enjoy Caceres is to lose yourself in the narrow streets and medieval buildings.
Sights to see in Caceres include the Church of the Star Arch, San Francisco Javier, the old Jewish quarter, the church of San Mateo, the Museo de Armas, Palacio del Capitan de Ovando, Torre de Sande, Hospitaleria de los Caballeros and the Casa del Sol. There are also a number of buildings which have official use in the old town which you will be unable to see. However, there are a number of exhibitions and artesan shops.
Remember to wear a pair of good walking shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking up steep slopes and through cobbled streets.
The Tourism Office can be found in the Main Square.
Extremedura is a very rural region so there are few places to see nearby. However, if you have a car travel around 30km to the town of Trujillo which is similar, though much smaller, to Caceres.
Trujillo has a magnificent main square lined by houses, restaurants,and a large church. Climbing up past the church you can reach the town's castle with views of the surrounding countryside.
Heading back down towards the main square make sure you have your camera at the ready as there are many photo opportunities. You will be able to climb the towers of the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor and visit the house where Pizzaro, the conqueror of the Incas, was born.
Trujillo is best visited Sunday mornings. The reason for this is after the effort of exploring Trujillo you will have a large appetite. To satisfy your appetite eat at the Meson la Troya for lunch. For a fixed price (good value) and fixed menu you will arrive at your table with plates of local ham, sausage,chorizo, house wine and water followed by roast lamb and dessert. The restaurant is quite cramped which will be made worse by your expanding waistline.
Story from Caceres
Myself and my wife visited Caceres and visited the Convento de los Jerominos. Like many convents the nuns sell biscuits to tourists to help support themselves. The convent is a closed convent so we had to by the biscuits through a screen. However, the Nun on the other side of the screen wanted to chat. After several minutes the Nun asked us if we wanted marzipan or almond flavoured biscuits. Not being fans of marzipan we asked for almond biscuits. After more chatting the Nun to confirm our order said "that was marzipan biscuits, wasn't it", "No", we corrected her, "we want almond biscuits". We waited while she prepared our order, paid then left with our biscuits. When stopped for a rest to eat our biscuits only to find the Nun had sold us marzipan biscuits.
The lesson of the story is beware of nuns, they can be tough saleswomen.