Sharing from our DMC Partner Destination Spain on Extremadura, a land to be discovered:
Extremadura, on the west side of Spain, is a region of contrasts where you will be able to visit exceptionally valuable monumental sites, enjoy a whole host of natural landscapes, and sample one of Spain’s most highly-prized cured hams. It has three sites which have the UNESCO World Heritage designation. In Mérida, its capital, visitors should not miss exploring its archaeological site, which every summer is used as the venue for a major theatre festival. The historic quarter of the city of Cáceres is also well worth a visit, as is the amazing town of Mérida.
Visiting the old town of Cáceres is traveling back in time. This entire city within the walls of Cáceres reached its peak after the Christian conquest against the Muslim dominance. Many men of the nobility returned from their voyages to explore and conquer America with great wealth and decided to build palaces and large houses. In the palaces you will see a common aesthetic, in general a shield that represents the family usually appears, and they used to have a tower and an interior patio. Cáceres means medieval palaces, cobbled streets with hardly any trees, a lot of stone with brown and ocher color, towers with history, constant surprise with each palace or courtyard visited, a quiet and pleasant area to walk around, a World Heritage city that deserves it.
The Plaza Mayor is undoubtedly an essential stop. It is surrounded by a 16th-century porticoed arcade, where you can find the City Hall, a pretty 19th century building; the Bujaco Tower, a historical landmark and the most important building in the city; the Tower of the Pulpits, which has Christian origins and is 16 metres high; the Yerba Tower, an Islamic construction, the Chapel of La Paz, built on the site of a former 16th century Renaissance chapel; or the Arco de la Estrella, the main gateway to the walled city of Cáceres.
Another of the most important squares is Santa María. It was used as a market for a long time and even as a place where the nobility celebrated weddings. In it you can see the Co-Cathedral
of Cáceres, a church originally built in the 13th century and re-erected between the 15th and 17th centuries; the Episcopal Palace; and the Renaissance style Hernando de Ovando Palace, built in the 15th century and reformed in the 18th.
Mérida, Extremadura’s capital and a World Heritage City, has several places you can't miss, specially two: the Roman theatre and amphitheater, and the National Museum of Roman Art. You will need to leave at least one hour for each one, although if you really want to soak up the magical atmosphere of the theatre and linger a little in the amphitheater, we recommend dedicating a total of around three hours for both. This was the center of entertainment and savage recreation in Augusta Emerita, a Roman town in the region of Hispania. The amphitheater hosted fights with wild animals, gladiators and even the execution of slaves. The stones that remain here are the remnants of a venue that could accommodate as many as 10.000 spectators. Cheers, applause, screams, the roaring of animals.... Roman life in its purest state. You can visit the rooms where the fighters and wild animals were caged, and even tread what was once the battle arena.
The marble columns, lintels, sculptures, and even the base of the stage are the original pieces of the Roman theater. Although the Visigoths destroyed the temple and used the stones to reinforce the city walls, these elements were found during excavations and the building has been very successfully restored to faithfully recreate the most sophisticated stage in the cultural world of ancient Mérida... and the present day. This theater continues in use, and in July and August hosts the International Classical Theatre Festival. Try this game: when you're sitting in the stalls and you've recovered from the impact of seeing this great stage, look for the remains of marble stones among the first rows of the seating. This was the place reserved for senators, which accounts for the use of superior materials. And here's an interesting fact: women, freedmen and slaves sat in the highest part of the theater.
Another monument that worth to be visited is Los Milagros aqueduct, opposite a bridge with Roman origins. We recommend an early- morning visit, because this landscaped area makes a pleasant place for a stroll, and at this time of day you will see the sun rising gradually between the arches and casting its light on the monument.