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Caceres: a jewel of medieval architecture

Caceres is a town of 90,000 inhabitants located 430 meters above sea level, between the Sierra de la Mosca and the Serrilla. The city, important since Roman times, was founded in 25 BC. by the Roman consul Lucio Cornelio Balbo, with the name of Norbensis Caesarina (Norba). It was later conquered by the Arabs. In the 12th century, the control of Caceres often changed hands between Muslims and Christians.

In 1169 the city was taken by the Christian troops of Ferdinand II. But in 1173 the Almohads reconquered it again, fortifying it. The Torre de Bujaco, the Torre de la Yerba and the Torre del Horno remain from this period. Finally, in 1229, the city was definitively occupied by King Alfonso IX of Leon.

The history of the city recalls the wars for the control of the Iberian peninsula between Christians and Muslims, and its buildings reflect this mixture of styles. There are Romanesque, Gothic, Arabic style and there is also the Italian Renaissance influence. Of the more than 30 towers from the Arab period, the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous. The old town of Caceres has been part of the UNESCO protected sites as a World Heritage Site since 1986.

WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF CACERES

The ancient part of the city is almost completely surrounded by walls which mostly date back to the Arab period. The walls are interspersed with a dozen towers that accentuate its medieval appearance.

From the Roman era an architectural testimony remains in the city next to the walls with a gate called Arco del Cristo or Puerta del Rio. Even the city walls have a Roman base.

The central square of Cáceres is the plaza Mayor where the town hall is. From here you reach the church of the Ermita de la Paz and the Torre de Bujaco from the Arab era. A little further on is the Arco de la Estrella beyond which is the Palacio Episcopal (XIII-XVII century).

LA CONCATEDRAL DE SANTA MARIA

You then arrive at the plaza de Santa Maria where the most important church of Caceres is located, the Concatedral de Santa María de Cáceres (13th-16th century), built in Romanesque style in transition from the Gothic.

The large church has three naves and a beautiful baroque-plateresque altarpiece (1551), built by Guillén Ferrant and Roque Balduque. Interesting are the Sacristy with museum of sacred objects and the tomb of Francisco de Godoy, a captain following Francisco Pizarro (conqueror of the Incas Empire). Also worth visiting are the Capilla de los Blázquez or Santísimo Cristo, the Capilla de Santa Ana (1446), and the Capilla de San Miguel (1551).

Also in the cathedral square is the Casa de los Ovando in Renaissance Gothic style (XV-XVIII century). Not far away is the Renaissance-style Palacio Toledo-Monteczuma. Its name derives from the spouses Mariana de Carvajal y Toledo and Juan Toledo Monteczuma, great-grandson of the Aztec emperor Montezuma II who built it in the 16th century. It is currently the headquarters of the Provincial Historical Archive of Caceres.

In the same square are the Casa and Torre de Carvajal and the Torre de los Espaderos.

Outside the walls are the Palacio de Godoy-Adana (1548) and the Iglesia de Santiago, a Gothic-Renaissance church from 1556, with a beautiful altarpiece inside, designed by A. Berruguete.

THE CUESTA DE LA COMPANIA: THE MOST CHARACTERISTIC STREET

From the cathedral square begins, uphill, the most characteristic street of Caceres, the Cuesta de la Compania flanked by interesting historical buildings such as the Casa de los Golfines de Abajo (16th century), the Convent of the Society of Jesus baroque building of 1755, the baroque Jesuit church of San Francisco Javier (18th century), the Casa de los Solis (17th century).

The most important church in the upper part of the city is the Iglesia de San Mateo, built on the site of a mosque, it is a Gothic-style building built from the 16th century, with a remarkable portal. Next to the church is the fifteenth-century tower of las Ciguenas.

In the nearby plaza de las Veletas is the Palacio de las Veletas built on the site where the Arab Alcazar was and of which it is possible to admire the cistern (aljibe) of the XI-XII century with five naves and Moorish arches. The building houses the Museo Arqueológico Provincial. Just beyond is the Casa de los Caballos (16th century) where the Museo de Bellas Artes is dedicated to contemporary art which exhibits the “Jesús Salvador” by El Greco, and works by Miró and Picasso. Nearby we can visit the Ermita de San Antonio, the Barrio Judío de San Antonio and the Arco del Cristo, the oldest gate in the city.

Returning to the church of San Mateo along the Calle de los Codes you can admire the Torre de los Plata (fifteenth century) and the Palacio de los Golfines de Arriba (fifteenth century). Many others are the prestigious buildings of Caceres, all that remains is to discover them walking in this beautiful town.

The climate of Caceres.

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