Extremadura: Tour Spain’s most overlooked but intriguing region

(CNN) — It is really hard to stand out in a country dotted with so numerous landmarks, but for a taste of Spain minus the crowds, Extremadura makes a compelling scenario.

Overshadowed by neighboring Andalusia, this sunny area revels in bucolic appeal and medieval heritage, Roman sites and a effectively-rounded calendar of festivities, all served with some of the country’s finest cheese, ham and olive oil.

The Monumental city

Cáceres is halfway in between Lisbon and Madrid, which have the closest significant intercontinental airports (about a few several hours absent by automobile). The metropolis is the excellent travel gateway to Spain’s most underrated location.

Declared Europe’s 3rd Monumental Advanced and a UNESCO Globe Heritage Metropolis decades in the past, Cáceres’ modern surge in recognition came courtesy of “Video game of Thrones.”

The medieval periods depicted in the sequence feel pretty much palpable when you arrive at night time: Situated atop a hill, the city’s cathedral stands imposing versus the midnight-blue, black birds circling its ancient towers, their squawks breaking the silence.

Home to endangered Spanish imperial eagles, griffon vultures and black storks, the National Park of Monfragüe in the Extremadura region is a top destination for bird-watching.

House to endangered Spanish imperial eagles, griffon vultures and black storks, the Countrywide Park of Monfragüe in the Extremadura area is a major place for chook-seeing.

Extremadura Vacationer Board

The practically magical ambience fades by dawn, but the city’s monumentality does not fall short to impress in daylight. A stroll about the previous town’s alleys and stone passages and a coffee at a single of the terraces spread out along Plaza Mayor are straightforward means to take it easy and let the historic atmosphere sink in.

For individuals up for a serious address, a table at the two-Michelin starred Atrio gives a spectacle for the palate and the eyes: The conversion of this former servant’s property by architects Emilio Tuñon and Luis Mansilla gained them worldwide acclaim.

“It was a difficult, 10-calendar year-extensive course of action, but we are now operating on a new restoration undertaking. We are passionate about the thought of revivifying previous Cáceres,” says José Polo, a single 50 % of the duo guiding Atrio.

In the gradual but constant efforts to marry medieval appeal and modern aptitude, the town is certain to be stirred up once again upcoming calendar year when the Middle for Visual Arts of Helga de Alvear will acquire a fashionable addition by the exact architectural workforce liable for Atrio.

Adjacent to the “Casa Grande,” or huge house as the middle is regarded to locals, the striped white concrete making will show extra artwork from Spain’s most significant personal present-day assortment.

Roman Cash

The Roman Theater, part of Merida's Archeological Ensemble, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Roman Theater, section of Merida’s Archeological Ensemble, is a UNESCO Earth Heritage Internet site.


Even further south, Extremadura’s cash Mérida is an unmissable end for aficionados of the Roman Empire. Mérida has the biggest Roman archeological heritage on the Iberian Peninsula, and its earlier as funds of Lusitania comes alive when walking by means of the city’s historical sophisticated.

A UNESCO-guarded web site, the Archeological Ensemble incorporates a theater, an amphitheater, a circus and all the constructions proper to a town of important great importance. The Countrywide Museum of Roman Art, suitable outdoors the gates of the complex, hosts the country’s most crucial art from the period of time and is properly worthy of a detour.

Beyond the Ensemble, Mérida offers rather squares fringed with orange trees, fantastic for attempting scrumptious tapas on a finances. All around the town, the attentive eye can place unique influences, such as Gothic and Mudéjar, blending with each other in harmony.

“Apart from Mérida’s chief relevance in Roman occasions, the city was capital to each the Alan and Visigoth kingdoms, even if only for quick periods, and was even now a effective city in al-Andalus. It truly is only since the city’s Roman heritage is so incredible that individuals associate it with absolutely nothing else,” states Félix Palma, director of the Mérida Consortium, a public entity liable for running the city’s cultural heritage.

Even though there have not been major excavations for a number of a long time for the reason that of spending budget constrictions, 2019 marked a paradigm shift, and readers will shortly be equipped to love an even a lot more entire immersion in the ancient Roman circuit.

The Extremadura pasture

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is a UNESCO Planet Heritage Internet site.

Extremadura Tourist Board

For these aiming to enterprise farther away from the major towns, the roads crisscrossing Extremadura lead to picturesque minimal towns and villages. They are scattered among the countless cork fields and olive groves, the region’s characteristic landscape known as “la dehesa extremeña,” the Extremadura pasture.

When the bulk of accommodation is centered in Cáceres and Mérida, there is no scarcity of alternatives in the countryside.

A 50 percent-hour push east from Cáceres, Trujillo’s major sq. is easily acknowledged by “Sport of Thrones” supporters as nevertheless an additional location for the sequence. The castle’s silhouette entices the traveler from a length, and when you enter the primary sq., there is certainly an too much to handle emotion of becoming embraced by the stone town.

The birthplace of Francisco Pizarro and other 16nth-century figures from the Spanish maritime discoveries, the metropolis is section of La Ruta de los Conquistadores, together with Medellín, Villanueva de la Serena and Jerez de los Caballeros.

Transferring further more east from Trujillo, lovely Guadalupe is house to Extremadura’s 3rd UNESCO site, a majestic Gothic and Mudéjar-design monastery.

Encircled by the mountains of the Monfragüe Countrywide Park, Guadalupe arguably delivers some of the region’s most cinematic sights. Venturing south, Zafra’s white-washed streets, strains of palm trees and myriad courtyards previously have a contact of Andalusia.

Gastronomy and festivities

Enjoy some summertime arts at the Mérida Classical Theater Festival.

Enjoy some summertime arts at the Mérida Classical Theater Competition.

Extremadura Tourist Board

Extremadura is Spain’s most sparsely populated region, with very little more than a million inhabitants spread over 16,000 sq. miles. Dwelling in what appears to be like like the era right before overtourism, it seems to be awakening from a very long slumber.

The lack of vacationers generally indicates a lack of bustling venues and fashionable jobs, so coupling the go to with a festival or a gastronomical excursion might do the trick for vacationers fearing countryside blues.

Held at the Roman theater in the summertime, the Mérida Classical Theater Competition has grow to be an global most loved.

Recognized in 1933 and disrupted for the duration of the Spanish Civil War, the festival has run without interruption because 1954. Also held at the Archeological Ensemble, the Way of the Cross — a ceremony held only at Mérida’s amphitheater and the Colosseum of Rome — is the significant point of a peculiar “Semana Santa,” the Holy 7 days.

Spiritual festivities choose put in the course of the 12 months all above the area, these types of as Los Empalaos in La Vera or the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

The identical goes for gastronomical fairs and markets, some of which include things like a time period costume dress code, this kind of as the forthcoming Medieval Sector of Three Cultures in Cáceres, which celebrates the city’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim heritage each and every November.

A lot more typically than not, cheese is omnipresent, if not the pull variable, at any community party. With a few distinctive Shielded Designations of Origin — torta del Casar, queso de Ibores, and queso de la Serena — the Extremeños seem to be to reside on cheese. And ham. And olive oil.

All of which are flawlessly great causes to lounge in a wicker chair in a beautiful medieval sq. someplace in unsung Extremadura.

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