Oliva de Plasencia, Cáceres

Cáceres, Spain

Cáceres is the capital of Cáceres Province, in Extremadura, Spain (see Caceres, Spain location.png). Its 2007 census population was 91,606 inhabitants (88,245 in 2004 and 90,750 in 2006). The municipio has a land area of 1,750.33 km² (675.806 sq mi) and is the largest in geographical extent in Spain.

There have been settlements near Cáceres since prehistoric times. Evidence of this can be found in the caves of Maltravieso and El Conejar. The city was founded by the Romans in 25 BC.

The old town or Ciudad Monumental still has its ancient walls; this part of town is also well known for its multitude of storks' nests. The walls contain a perfect medieval town setting with no outward signs of modernity, for which reason many films have been shot there. The Universidad de Extremadura, and two astronomical observatories are situated in Cáceres. It is also a seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Coria-Cáceres.

Cáceres was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1986 because of the city's blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. Thirty towers from the Muslim period still stand in Cáceres, of which the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.

Cáceres is one of the cities competing for recognition as the European City of Culture in 2016.

History

The origins of Cáceres go back to prehistoric times, as evidenced by the paintings in the Cuevas de Maltravieso (Maltravieso Caves) which date back to the late Paleolithic period. Visitors can see remains from medieval times, the Roman occupation, Moorish occupation and the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Cáceres has four main areas to be explored: the historical quarter, the Jewish quarter, the modern center, and the outskirts.

As mentioned above, the first evidence of humans living in Cáceres is from the Late Paleolithic era, around 25,000 BC. Cáceres started to gain importance as a strategic city under Roman occupation, and remains found in the city suggest that it was a thriving center as early as 25 BC. Some remains of the first wall built around the city by the Romans in the third and fourth centuries still exist, including one gateway, the Arco del Cristo.

After the end of the Roman Empire, the city was occupied by Germanic tribes - the Visigoths - and entered a period of decline and decay until the Arabs conquered Cáceres in the eighth century. The city spent the next few centuries mostly under Arab rule, although power alternated several times between Moors and Christians. During this time, the Arabs rebuilt the city, including a wall, palaces, and various towers, including the Torre de Bujaco. Cáceres was reconquered by the Christians in the 13th century. During this period the city had an important Jewish quarter: in the 15th century when the total population was 2,000, nearly 140 Jewish families lived in Cáceres. The Jewish population was expelled by Queen Isabella and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1492, but many remains can still be seen today in the Barrio San Antonio, evidence of Jewish influences during this period.

Cáceres flourished during the Reconquista and the Discovery of America, as influential Spanish families and nobles built homes and small palaces there, and many members of families from Extremadura participated in voyages to America where they made their fortunes. In the 19th century, Cáceres became the capital of the province, marking a period of growth which was halted by the Spanish Civil War. The headquarters of the university and several regional government departments are to be found in Cáceres, which today has a population of over 90,000 inhabitants.

Monuments

Cathedrals and Churches: Iglesia y Convento de San Pablo, XV Century church and convent; Convento de la Compañía de Jesus baroque style which today is used for art exhibitions; Iglesia y Concatedral de Santa María, cathedral built in XXIII, Gothic period; Iglesia de San Mateo, XV Century church built on the site of a former mosque; Iglesia de San Francisco Javier, Baroque period, XVIII century; Iglesia de San Juan, large majestic church which took five centuries to complete, from 13th to 15th Century; Ermita de San Antonio Iglesia de Santo Domingo; Ermita de la Paz; Iglesia de Santiago

The Wall: Torre de Bujaco XIIc; Arco de la Estrella XVIIIc; Torre de Sande, XIVc-XVc; Torre de los Púlpitos; Torre de la Hierba; Arco de Santa Ana; Torre del Horno; Torre del Postigo; Torre Redonda; Torre Desmochada; Arco del Cristo; Arco del Socorro

Palaces and stately homes: Palacio de los Golfines de Arriba; Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo - one of the most spectacular. The Reyes Católicos, Isabella and Ferdinand, lived here; Palacio del Comendador de Alcuescar; Palacio-Fortaleza de los Torreorgaz, today a Parador hotel, Palacio Episcopal; Palacio de Carvajal XVc; Palacio de Godoy; Palacio de Mayoralgo; Mansión de los Sande; Palacio de las Veletas; Palacio de los Cáceres-Ovando; Casa del Mono; Palacio de los Toledo-Moctezuma; Casa del Sol; Casa Mudejar; Casa de Carvajal y Ulloa.

Museums

Museum of Cáceres - ALJIBE - housed in La Casa de las Veletas y la Casa de los Caballos in the historical quarter. La Casa-Museo Árabe, between the Plaza San Jorge and the Arco del Cristo. Arab culture, art and remains. Museo Concatedral de Caceres, in the Plaza Santa Maria. Religious art. Museo Piedrilla - Guayasamín

Fiestas y festivals

  • Fiesta de los mártires in January.
  • Carnival, Fiesta de las Candelas and Fiesta de San Blas in February.
  • Semana Santa processions wind around the narrow streets in the historical center. Semana Santa (Easter) is national interest event.
  • Music Festival: "Extremúsika" around March-April.
  • The most important local fiestas in Cáceres are in April, San Jorge, when on 22nd-23rd a dragon is burnt on a bonfire in the Plaza Mayor, accompanied by a fireworks display.
  • WOMAD music festival happens at the beginning of May and gives Cáceres a multicultural touch.
  • Ferias de San Fernando at the end of May.

Shopping, cuisine and restaurants

Shopping: The small streets in the historical center have lots of small shops selling typical products. The convents sell homemade sweets and pastries. Wines from Extremadura are affordable, full-bodied red wine. Local liquors include cherry liquor made with cherries from the nearby Jerte valley, or other original liquors such as chestnut or blackberry. Other local produce can be bought in most towns and villages in the province including sheep cheese (Torta del Casar, is not made of goat milk, but with milk from merino sheep), fig cake, chestnuts, hams and other pork products, lamb, olive oil, and paprika (pimentón de la Vera).

Cuisine: Fresh, quality ingredients are the key to the local cuisine. Salt-cured ham and red wine are produced locally and are officially recognized by the Spanish government. Both goat and sheep cheese are produced by traditional methods and renowned throughout the country. Cáceres is also famous for its stews, roast meats (especially pork, lamb and game), fried breadcrumbs (migas), trout, pastries and honey.

Restaurants in Cáceres: Atrio, one of Spain's finest restaurants, innovative cuisine, according to Wine Spectator magazine, it has one of the best wine lists of the world; El Figón, one of Cáceres' oldest and most popular restaurants, traditional cuisine; Eustaquio, recent-opened restaurant based on the cuisine of "El Figón"; La Tahona, local cuisine, impressive winelist, good prices. If you want to enjoy the magic soul of the Old Town while having lunch or dinner your place to go is "Torre de Sande".

Natural parks and rural tourism

Monfragüe Natural Park: 85 km. 17,852 hectares, the Parque Natural de Monfragüe contains the following villages: Torrejón el Rubio, Serradilla, Malpartida de Plasencia, Toril, Serrejón, Jaraicejo y Casas de Miravete. With one of the largest forests in Spain with over 1,400 different species of trees. A favourite with birdwatchers, the park has the world's largest colony of black vultures and imperial eagles, and is also home to colonies of black storks, eagle owls, black-shouldered kites, grassland birds including great bustards, sandgrouse.... Camping is not allowed in the park. Monumento natural Los Barruecos - 14 km. curious rock formation. Los Llanos de Cáceres y Sierra de Fuente is a Zone Protected for Birds

rural tourism:

Aldeanueva de la Vera: casa de campo, cottige, vakantieboerderij la oropendola la oropendola

Education

The University of Extremadura (founded in 1973) has a campus in Cáceres. It comprises several schools:

- Polytechnic School (offering studies in Computer Engineering, Architecture, amongst others)
- Nursing and Ocupational Therapy School
- School of Sports Science
- School of Teaching
- School of Business and Tourism
- Veterinary School
- Philosophy and Letters School (offering studies in Literature and History, amongst others)
- Law School

The university has another three campuses in Badajoz, Mérida and Plasencia.

External links

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