Caceres – Ciudad Monumental

My second stop in Extremadura in November 2013 was Caceres, a city of 100,000 and capital of its own province.

20131128_12491520131128_15051020131128_131654The old town has been declared a UNESCO heritage site due to its mix of Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The medieval walls and their twelve towers are still standing and in a good state of preservation. They were mainly built by the Moors although some Roman fortifications remain. Please click on these photos to see them in full detail.

20131128_13172220131128_131442The main entrance to the historical centre is via the 18th century Arco de Estrella in Plaza Major. Its unusual angular shape presumably allowed carriages to access the narrow side street.

20131128_15011220131128_12585220131128_14522620131128_15015520131128_14551020131128_125941Many of the buildings here are quite austere as they were originally built as fortified houses in the 15th century and then later converted to palaces during the Renaissance. Some conquistadores from South America also returned and built new palaces during this period.

 

20131128_14553020131128_15023520131128_150212Coats of arms decorate walls and doors at every turn. You can apparently see over 1,300 coats of arms around the town.

20131128_13271420131128_13083320131128_12564620131128_13133020131128_13130520131128_132451And as elsewhere in Spain, they know how to do a good door! No ones getting through one of those in a hurry.

20131128_13052720131128_13152520131128_12570520131128_13231220131128_14524820131128_150607

 

 

Only residents cars are allowed in this area, so it’s a great place to walk around, just breathing in the history.

You probably need a couple of hours to do this, more if you want to see the insides of buildings. I could quite happily have spent much longer wandering around but unfortunately I only had one morning to do it.

As you’d imagine with such a touristy area, there are plenty of places to eat. A friend of a friend had recommended La Cacharreria at 1 Calle Orellana for large tapas portions at a good price in cosy surroundings. However as it was my last day I felt like a bit more of a treat and was sorely tempted to go high end and eat 13 courses for €119 at Atrio restauranteatrio.com which is generally considered the best place in town. Fortunately for my wallet, I reigned myself in and compromised with…

Parador de Caceres (Advanced B+), 6 Calle Ancha, www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-caceres

In Spain many old castles and historical buildings are owned and run by the government as hotels, as is the case with this beautiful Renaissance palace. For some reason however the food at these places can sometimes be quite poor but this particular one had been recommended by a colleague who was taken here by a local manager who knows his stuff when it comes to eating well.

20131128_14513620131128_133534It’s certainly a nice spot with the dining room looking out over a leafy courtyard garden, which has an old well in one corner.

The service was friendly and attentive too, and they dealt with all my foodie questions with a smile.

20131128_13473420131128_135355I had the Menu Parador for €31, starting with some pate and a local sausage called Patatera. Traditionally this was poor man’s food, made with potato, the famous local paprika and the cheapest cuts from the pig. It was very nice, as was the Caldereta de Setas, or wild mushroom soup, that followed (both B).

20131128_14290020131128_140815 - CopyFor the main course it had to be the Solomillo pork loin as the region is famed in Spain for pig breeding. It was pretty good (B+). To finish the house speciality, Tarta de Queso con Frutillas del Bosque, or cheese cake with fruits of the forest, which was fine too.

To finish the local dessert and house speciality, Tecula Mecula, made with egg yolks, almonds, pork lard and cinnamon, and apparently acorns sometimes too. It was my favourite part of the meal (A).

20131128_13474820131128_143017To drink a half bottle Tempranillo crianza called De Payva from nearby Badajoz (B) and a glass of Graham’s tawny port (B+), which they would seem to prefer in Extremadura to Andalucian sherry. Total cost €55, All was fine and dandy so by all means come here.

Here’s my Google map to help you find the places mentioned. To make my this post more manageable I’ve divided it into two, the old and new(er) parts of town. Please see the next post for everything else.

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