The origins of Caceres can be traced back over 25,000 years to the times of cavemen from the Palaeolithic age. The rich, historical diversity of Caceres involves such cultures as Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. Because Caceres has such a diverse history this has resulted in the city having a wonderfully eclectic amount of historical attractions. The city is centred on the 150m long Plaza Mayor which is right next to the Ciudad Monumental where the majority of the finest historical sights are to be found. This is a place to visit by day when you can enter the main attractions and by night just to marvel at the illuminated buildings.
As you stroll into the walled Ciudad Monumental from Plaza Mayor you’ll enter the Plaza de Santa Maria where Caceres’ 15th century Gothic cathedral stands. Look out for the modern statue of San Pedro de Alcantra near the Palacio de Mayoralgo. A little further into this area is the charming Plaza de San Jorge which is home to the wonderful Iglesia de San Francisco Javier.
Sadly, most of Caceres’ Roman heritage was detroyed by the invasion of the barbaric Visigoths so the Arco del Cristo along Cuesta de Marques from Plaza San Jorge is all that remains from the Roman period.
Two more main squares make up the Ciudad Monumental, Plaza de San Mateo and Plaza de las Veletas where you’ll find more fascinating buildings. The Palacio de los Golfines is also worth a visit, this was where Franco set up his base during the early days of the civil war. The Casa Mudejar is one of few remaining buildings displaying Moorish influence.
One of the most arresting sights in Caceres, if only for the fact that it’s one of the only remnants from the religious battles of the time, is the Palacio de los Caceres-Ovando. One part of Caceres’ history is when the Catholic ruler, Queen Isabella, tried to destroy all things that did not fit her beliefs and, thankfully, the tower and the battlements of Caceres-Ovando did not fall to this crusade.
The four star Parador of Caceres is a fine place to stay housed in a 14th century palace. A charming alternative is to try one of the rural cottages outside the city such as the Hacienda de Cuacos which has wonderful views of the Sierra de Gredos mountains.
The Caceres Parador occupies the 14th century Torreorgaz Palace originally owned by one of the conquistadors. The only hotel within the monumental area of the city, it is ideally situated to explore the magnificent old town which is full of both religious buildings and privately owned mansions. The parador itself offers spacious living rooms in soft cream shades and wooden beams in harmony with its location in this World Heritage site. Visitors can use the restaurant to sample typical Extremeño food such as Venison with Caesar salad and roast kid with rosemary.
There are plenty simple restaurants scattered around the edge of the Plaza Mayor with outdoor terraces, Meson Arcos is as good as any. For better quality dining head for Meson El Asador (c/ Moret, 34) for superb roast meat dishes or for something more stylish reserve a table in the courtyard of the Restaurante Torre de Sande (c/ de los Condes, 3). The Palacio del Vino (c/ Ancha, 4) in the historic quarter is another good choice for intimate dining.