The history of Cáceres goes back around 25,000 years, proof of which can be found in Late Paleolithic-era cave paintings found in a cave in the historic district. The cave is unfortunately closed to the public but there is an exact replica in the Interpretative Center. Cáceres was founded by the Romans in 25B.C. and is recognized as a bi-millennial city. Its later history was plagued by battles between Christians and Moors for control of the city, which was finally recovered in April 23rd, 1229 (St. George’s Day, patron of Cáceres) by Alfonso IX. When we pass beneath the Estrella Arch of the Puerta Nueva (15th century), we are really passing through much more than just physical space; we’re literally taking a trip through time and exploring the same worn cobblestones that felt the footsteps of Jews, Arabs, Christians, Mozarabs, nobleman, peasants, soldiers, and clergy on their way to the Plaza of Santa María , its Cathedral, and palaces. It would be too much to describe all of the more than 100 buildings or historic places found within the old city walls, but the best way to begin is by visiting the city’s museums, especially that found in the Plaza de Las Veletas with its archaeological, ethnographical, and artistic collection and fully-preserved Arab cistern. The exhibit hall in the wall-walk of Santa Ana has a collection of objects from the modern history of Cáceres, and in the Palace of the Regional Administration there’s a multimedia exhibit about the province. You also shouldn’t miss the exhibit about the Three Cultures in the Tower of Bujaco, built in the 12th century. This gives access to the battlement and its overwhelming views of the medieval city.
To enter the intramural area of the old town of Cáceres, there's nothing like the Arch of the Star. The main wall gate of Caceres is a characteristic obelisk. Supposedly, it's shaped like this to allow carriages to enter. Its name derives from the Virgen de la Estrella, located on the inner side of the arc. On the other hand, facing the Plaza Mayor, there is the shield of Caceres on the arch.
The Santa María Concathedral presides over the Plaza of Santa María and the most important religious monument in the city. It was built in the Gothic style between the 15th and 16th centuries on the remains of a previous Romanesque structure from the 13th century. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. The doorways are Gothic although some have Romanesque touches.
The most notable aspect of the exterior is the high 3-chamber bell-tower visible from around the city and which you can visit via an interior stairwell (which I’d recommend since the views are incredible). In the Plaza of Santa María, there’s a bronze statue of San Pedro de Alcántara by the sculptor Pérez Comendador.
The interior of the church is very spacious with high ceilings and a rectangular base with three chambers, pointed arches, and vaults. The most striking part is the altarpiece dedicated to the Assumption. It was made by Roque Balduque and Guillen Ferrant in the 16th century and is composed of un-polychromed cedar and pine. There are also three chapels worthy of mention: the Carvajal Chapel and its Baroque altar of the Archangel St. Michael from the 12th century, the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, and the Chapel of the Black Christ (15th century). The church also features several Gothic sepulchers and an impressive organ made in 1703 by Manuel de la Viña.
To visit the Concathedral, you have to pay a 1€ entry fee. It’s open from 10:30 to 13:30 and from 17:30 to 19:30. If you want to visit the museum and the bell-tower terrace, you must pay 2€.
Caceres in itself is a spectacular city that surprises and delights. It's a gem quite unknown and you end up imagining it very differently. It's a great city to visit at night, which is a fantastic experience that very few people enjoy. Well if you do the night visit, the guides are really special, just like this pair of Minstrels who are totally off the charts. "Minstrel in the night" is a nocturnal tour through Caceres during which you'll be regaled by stories and songs of this beautiful, entertaining and fun city. You make several stops and different characters tell stories of the most interesting places. The costumes and interpretation are beautifully maintained, and the stories are funny and interesting. It's definitely a must-see, the best, and most different, way to explore Caceres.
After crossing its threshold, almost without realizing it, you seem to go back centuries in history. Its vaults, arches and columns are wonderful exhibits of architecture from centuries ago and it is almost incomprehensible to us how, using the equipment and tools of the time, it was possible to create it. Worth a visit.
It dates back to the XV century and can be found in the medieval Old Town of Cáceres. But for me it is known as the home of the Institute of Camoes. In high school, in addition to the official examinations of Portuguese, you can watch movies, listen to music and read newspapers. You can also register as a user and take books home, to learn Portuguese or literature of the neighboring country. It is also the place where you have to go to pre-enroll. But they also offer information on employment, scholarships and PhDs. The building is renovated to accommodate administrative offices, but still retains much charm of these medieval castles.
The courtyard of the Palacio de Carvajal is known mainly for a wonderful living olive tree, but I would like to highlight the traditional works of art made of clay. These containers were once used for cooking over the fire. It was a slow cooking that lingered all morning, but gave a special flavor to dishes. Special pots were needed, smaller than can be seen here. Then there were the jars, which were used to hold water and wine. And finally, the amphorae, an elongated object that rested on the grass in the yard, keeping seeds and products in the mud to keep them fresh. I am often transported back to the Carvajal Palace courtyard, where the historic olive tree seems to have become disillusioned with life. In this place, mud seems to gain prominence in the age of plastic.
Supposedly, from my own interpretation, there was an adventurous conqueror, who, once older, married a young lady and they lived in this palace. The man, zealous for keeping the beauty of his wife, decided that during his absences, she should remain locked in the palace. During one of his trips, and because of his wife's complaints of loneliness, he bought a monkey to amuse her during the tedious hours. But she had already found other entertainment within the four walls of the locked home. So the monkey shared the task of entertaining the lady as a servant. In this situation, and in the absence of the husband, the lady had a beautiful boy who aroused the anger and jealousy of the monkey. In a fit of rage, he took the child and killed him, then doing the same with everyone in the house except the lady, who drowned in her own screams. The conqueror, returning, had a gargoyle sculpted in his own image, that of his wife and of the crazed monkey, who he chained to the stairs. Perhaps the chains would have saved the house from such a tragic event in the first place, though we'll never know.
These are the two words that define the famous WOMAD festival in Caceres. There is ethnic diversity in the youthful performances, aimed largely at pursuing integration of all kinds of music, from pop to rap, to Latin music and instruments. It's certainly an unforgettable experience. You'll open yourself to the world and become aware of many things. Go with the rhythm and enjoy the people, in all its essence.
La Traviata is a relaxed place for an afternoon coffee or evening drink. In the middle of Plaza Pizarro, the bar area of Caceres, this bar, though small, has its own style, its own clientele, and its own music. By mid-afternoon, and if there's good weather, you can have a coffee on one of the tables in the street. It's quiet and the place is nice. It also has monthly painting and sculpture exhibitions and, one night, I saw a performance. There are also video projections and a DJ. When it opened, I was told it was a gay bar, but I think there's a little bit of everything. But a drink is better than a thousand words, so I ordered a cocktail and kept talking.
Cáceres’ historic district is full of palaces and regal homes, but in my opinion the Palace of Los Golfines de Abajo is the most beautiful and impressive, not just for its size (it could hold about 20 houses) but also for its decoration.
The Palace lends its name to the Plaza de Los Golfines and was built by the Golfín family in the 15th century. It shouldn’t be confused with the Palace of Los Golfines de Arriba, which belongs to a separate branch of the family.
The façade perfectly combines two different architectural eras: that of house-fort from the 15th century and 16th-century Humanism. Remarkable aspects of the façade include the two-sided granite battlement tower, the crest of fantastic plateresque animals that decorates the upper area, mullioned windows, and the coat of arms of Alvarez Golfines.
You can also see the shield of the Catholic Kings with the inscription “Fer de Fer” which alludes to Fernando Golfín and King Fernando and the fact that the Catholic Kings stayed in this palace when they visited Cáceres. During that era, members of the Golfín family occupied high places in government and society.
The most beautiful of all the Caceres is the Patron of the City. With its geographical name, the Virgin of the Mountain comes down every April from the chapel's mountain home to visit the Cathedral of Caceres. The Virgin is a brunette and the mantle changes every day. It's popular to make bets about what colour the mantel will be when it passes. I don't know what fortune awaits the one who guesses right, but it's funny to make the bet. Thousands of people each day pass by the Co-Cathedral to visit the Virgin in the 9 days it's in town.
This museum which occupies the Palace of Las Veletas and the Casa de los Caballos was once a Moorish Alcazaba, as shown by the cistern from the 11th and 12th centuries. The rest of the castle was built between the 15th and 18th centuries.
The Museum of Cáceres contains a collection that spans from prehistory to the Visigoth era, an Ethnographic section, the Spanish-Arab cistern, and a collection of fine art with works from the Museo del Prado (Lucas Jordán, Vicente Carducho, Antonio Equivel), the Diocese of Coria-Cáceres (tapestries, paintings, and religious offerings) and the Local Administration (contemporary artists like Alberto Sánchez, Canogar, Chirino, Genovés, Gordillo, Millares, Oteiza, Palazuelo, Saura, Vostell, and Zóbel).
It also houses many traveling exhibits.
Known in the guidebooks as the "City of Monuments," Caceres was declared by the Council of Europe as the Third Monument of Europe and a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1986. It should come as no surprise then that there's an immense number of things to do in Caceres. The city has a large architectural heritage, among which palaces and religious monuments abound. Some of the most important Caceres activities include visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Palace of the Golfines Down, Carvajal Palace, and the Palace of the Vanes, among others. The list of palaces to explore and places to visit in Caceres is almost endless, and you would need several days to fully experience everything.
Another one of the Caceres attractions of great importance are the city's towers. The most famous of all the attractions in Caceres is the Tower of Bujaco, an Arab tower that is the emblem of the city. For those looking for more exciting stuff to do in Caceres, check out Maltravieso Cave, El Conejar Cave, and Santa Ana Cave, which is located in a military camp 12 km from the city. You can find out more information at the town hall when you arrive about possible entry into these caves with a guide.
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