It is located in the center of the autonomous community of Extremadura settling on the plateau of Trujillo Cacereña, a peneplain, located between the Sierra de San Pedro and the Sierra de Montánchez, of undulating land in which the pastures of oaks and cork oaks predominate. Thousands of years ago, archaeological remains from the Upper Palaeolithic period have been found in the Maltravieso cave, which is now in the town centre. When the Romans established their camps here, they encountered tribes of Lusitanians and Vetons who they romanized. Later, Lucius Cornelius Balbus founded the Norbensis Caesarina Colony in the year 25 B.C., included in the province of Lusitania. The colony was part of the Silver Route Iter ab Emérita Asturicam, the Roman road that linked the populations of the west of the peninsula, from Mérida to Astorga. The Almohads, in the 10th century, used the walled enclosure as a refuge in their attacks against the Christians and in the following three centuries they reconstructed and extended the Roman walls, equipping them with new towers, calling this population centre Hinz Qazris, and they even built a fortress. The population was alternately in Arab and Christian hands until it was definitively reconquered in 1229, when the town was repopulated by noble families from the north of the peninsula who built their palaces and fortress houses under the protection of the walls.
Queen Isabel the Católica, after prevailing in the fight for the succession of Enrique IV to his niece Juana la Beltraneja, ordered the demolition of the towers that surpassed the height of the roofs of the Caceres nobility that had mainly supported the Beltraneja, is what is known as the dismemberment of the towers. From the 15th century onwards, most of the civil and religious buildings that have survived to the present day were built, although they were reformed in the 16th century with an architecture more in keeping with the new trends and tastes of the Renaissance, although without losing the austere style that characterises Cáceres. The war with Portugal, the expulsion of the Moors, the plagues and epidemics together with the scarcity of economic resources made the 17th and 18th centuries especially hard. In 1790, the Royal Court of Extremadura brought the jurisdictional unity of the region, dependent until then of Valladolid and Granada. Later, in 1833, Caceres was named capital of Upper Extremadura creating the Free University of Education, later College of Humanities. King Alfonso XII visited the city to inaugurate the railway that links it to Valencia de Alcántara in 1881 and a year later he granted Cáceres, which had been a royal town until then, the title of city. In the 20th century, specifically in 1986, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage City.
In order to visit Cáceres, it is necessary to spend some time in peace and quiet, enjoying and discovering the richness it offers in every corner. The Main Square can be used as a prelude to the visit to later enter the walled enclosure. From it the city arises outside the walls when Fernando IV grants to the town the possibility of constructing houses outside the walls, the denominated Rondas de la Villa, the first houses were located next to the tower of Bujaco and are conserved from the origin of the square, that in century XIII was the place destined for the celebration of fairs and markets, Different guilds of merchants and craftsmen, such as painters, shoemakers or tailors, settled here and this led, in the 16th century, to the construction of the arcades, each of which was a guild centre in itself, the bread portal, the apothecary's, the silversmiths' and the scribes'... The current Town Hall building, of neoclassical construction, dates from the 19th century and was built on the site occupied by the town's prison.
The old town hall was located in what is now the Forum of the Balbos, between the tower of the Oven, built by the Arabs on Roman ashlars and known by that name because it had an oven attached to its walls, and the tower of the Herb. In the vicinity of the square is the palace of the Roco-Godoy, Renaissance style of the sixteenth century, showing a beautiful balcony on the corner and next to it is located the church of Santiago de los Caballeros, the thirteenth century but with reforms in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth. Close to the Main Square was located from 1478 the Jewry New whose synagogue was located on the site now occupied by the palace of the Marquis of the Island, built in the sixteenth century. Before entering through the arch of the Star, a baroque construction of the eighteenth century on the so-called New Door of the fourteenth century in front of which Isabel the Catolica swore to respect the laws of the town, you can see the chapel of Peace in the sixteenth century was a Renaissance chapel dedicated to San Benito and when reconstructed in the year 1756 was dedicated to the Virgin of Peace and next to it the tower of Bujaco, Arabic of the end of the XII century and constructed on Roman ashlars with three matacanes, two lateral and one in the frontal where it is also the Balcony of the Fueros, added in century XVI.
The wall and one of its gates, the so-called "Rio", today the arch of Christ, are the Roman remains outside the Archaeological Museum. Walk through the streets within the walls, without a predetermined direction, to reach the square of Santa Maria where the co-cathedral of Santa Maria is located, which began in the thirteenth century and ended in the sixteenth century in which you can see a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance elements; the palace and tower of Carvajal, both built at the end of the 15th century; the palace of Hernando de Ovando from the 16th century; the Episcopal palace, its oldest part dates from the 13th century when Don Fernando bishop of Coria was granted some shops in the square of Santa Maria to make the episcopal houses, here Felipe II was lodged in 1583 on his return journey after being crowned king of Portugal, the most modern part of the palace is from the 17th century; the Mayoralgo palace, of medieval origin, was very much reformed between the 15th and 16th centuries; towards the square of San Jorge is located the palace of the Golfines de Abajo, built between the 15th and 16th centuries, it is a huge palace that was formed by the adhesion of seventeen houses, here the Catholic Kings stayed. In the square dedicated to the city's patron saint, San Jorge, the church of San Francisco Javier and the convent of the Society of Jesus were built in the 18th century.
The primitive Jewish community settled in the highest part of the city, in the shadow of what had been the Almohad fortress, where after the 15th century and taking advantage of its structure, the palace of the Veletas was built, which still has the cistern of the fortress. The church of San Mateo is mentioned for the first time in a document from 1345. The palace of the Storks is the only one that is respected the height of its original tower because its owner, Diego de Ovando, supported Queen Isabel. The palace of the Generala. The arch of Santa Ana. The house of Aldana. The house of the Cáceres Nidos was built in the 15th century, it is known as the house of the Monkey because inside there is a sculpted figure of a monkey tied with a chain to the railing; the house of the Moraga family. The hermitage of San Antonio from 1470, the house of the Eagle, the house of the Sun, the house of the Ribera family... and so many others. Wherever you look, in this corner of Cáceres you will find a reason to admire, to be curious and to let yourself be rocked by centuries of history, art and culture. If you want to see the monumentality of Cáceres from a privileged balcony, what better than to go to the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Montaña, patron saint of the city, built in the 18th century in the Sierra de la Mosca at an altitude of about 600 metres, and which houses a 17th century carving of the Virgin.
Cáceres celebrates its patron saint's day in honour of San Jorge on 23 April. The city's patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Montaña, is celebrated on the first Sunday in May, but a few days before the Virgin is lowered by the Caceres residents in a pilgrimage from her sanctuary and received in the Main Square by the mayor, who hands her the staff of command. On the Sunday closest to January 20, the popular pilgrimage of the Holy Martyrs San Fabian and San Sebastian takes place in the High Walk. In addition, numerous cultural events are held throughout the year.
In May, the May Fair or Feria Grande has been held in Cáceres from 28 to 30 and since 1896. Another tradition that year after year takes place in the city is the burning, on the eve of San Jorge in the Main Square, of the fearsome dragon and then from 12 o'clock at night people participate in the game "Find the hen", two felt hens hide in the area inside the walls, and whoever finds them gets a cash prize. All this is related to the legend of the Moorish and the battle of San Jorge and the dragon.
Within the municipality of Cáceres there are two Natural Protected Areas, the Llanos de Cáceres-Sierra de Fuentes and the Sierra de San Pedro, and near Cáceres there is the Monfragüe National Park, recently named Natural Biosphere Reserve. Every year the Sierra de la Mosca Mountain Race is held, which counts towards the Extremadura Mountain Race Cup. It consists of three races: one of 30 km, another of 18 km and a guided hiking route.
Many legends are told in Cáceres, one of them talks about how the lion king Alfonso IX conquered the city. Being a Muslim bastion impregnable by its walls, towers and corridors, the armies of the Christian king besieged it thinking that this would force them to surrender, but the siege was too long and this did not happen, so Alfonso IX sent a group of soldiers with a handsome captain at the front to give an ultimatum to the Caid del Alcázar. This captain awoke the love of the princess who, on the sly, sent a servant to bring the Christian captain to his quarters at night through a secret passage. The young warrior pretended to be in love with the princess and managed to get her to give him the keys to the passage so that he could see her whenever he wanted, which the gallant captain took advantage of and told the king. The assault took place on the eve of the day of San Jorge. The Caid heard from his daughter's mouth the terrible event and feeling betrayed, as did his people, and before dying in battle, he cursed her and turned her into a hen and her servants into chicks condemning them to live forever in some secret gallery in the city's subways. And it is said that the princess returns to her human form and leaves her prison at the sound of the first bell at midnight on the eve of San Jorge and accompanied by the twelve chicks with golden feathers, wanders sadly through the streets of Cáceres and then returns to her enchantment until the following year. And there is a rumour that if some neighbour came across one of the chicks and took it for himself, he would have wealth and fortune for the rest of his life.
Cáceres is connected by the A-66, the old Roman road of the Silver, with Hervás, Plasencia on one side and with Mérida, Almendralejo, Zafra, Fuente de Cantos and Monesterio on the other. Through the A-58 it connects, passing by Trujillo, with the A-5 and with Madrid and with the Lusitanian capital, linking with Badajoz or Merida. It also communicates with Portugal, through Valencia de Alcantara, on the N-521. From Ciudad Real, you can get there by following the N-430, through Fuenlabrada de los Montes, towards Don Benito and Mérida.
Cáceres has a regular bus service that connects it with nearby towns and other long-distance routes that not only connect it with Madrid but also with various provincial capitals. The bus station is located in c/ Túnez s/n and the telephone number for further information is 927 232 550.
The train station of Cáceres is located at Avenue Juan Pablo II, 6 and the telephone number is 927 235 061. Among other railway services, the train that connects Madrid with Lisboa passes through here.
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