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Badajoz is a town in the Extremadura province of Spain just 6 kilometers from the border with Portugal. In the 8th century it was conquered by the Moors and then following the Reconquista was disputed for centuries by the Spanish and Portugese.
Topped by the Moorish fortress of Badajoz the town has an interesting mix of Moorish and Spanish buildings. The main Moorish building is the Alcazaba fortress and its fortified walls enclose the Palace of the Dukes of Roca which is now the Regional archaeological museum. The museum is free to enter. There are also some pretty gardens in the walls, the Jardines de la Galera. As you wander around the gardens there are various Moorish ruins to explore.
At the foot of the Alcazaba are the main streets and squares of Badajoz. Many of these are very attractive especially the lovely Plaza Alta surrounded by the arcades and pretty brick pattern of the 15th century building on its edge.
The Plaza de Espana is the location of both the cathedral of Badejoz and the town hall. The 13th century cathedral is Gothic-Romanesque in style and has thick defensive walls. Inside the cathedral are some interesting Renaissance artworks and some Flemish tapestries.
Near to the cathedral the Museo Provincial de Belles Artes is free to visit and housed in a beautiful building. It has quite a good selection of Art worrks on display.
Badejoz sits on the edge of the Guadiana river and is crossed by the Palmas bridge which leads to the imposing Palmas gate with its two stone towers. The bridge itself is impressive with its 32 stone arches crossing the river.
The Moorish invasion of Badejoz and its location on the Spanish Portugese border means that Badajoz has had more than its fair share of battles but the most brutal was the Spanish Civil War when the Nationalists took the town. On August 14, 1936 they herded hundreds of men and women of the town into the bullring and set up machine guns all around the ring. Hundreds were killed that night and the next day they began again! In total over 4000 people were killed. The killing was under the orders of General Juan Yagüe who became known as 'the Butcher of Badajoz".
The closeness of the Portugese border is an advantage to Badajoz these days and the town is an important trading town between the two countries. It makes a good base for exploring the surrounding area which includes the Cornalvo Nature Reserve.
Carnival is a very good time to explore Badejoz. It is an important festival in the town's calender. To see some of the costumes from previous Carnivals visit the towns Museo del Carnaval on the Plaza de la Libertad.
Places to Visit Nearby
Merida is one of the key towns to visit in the area. It was once the largest Roman town in the region and its legacy of Roman buildings has led it to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful city of Caceres is also nearby.
Map of Badajoz and places to visit
Badajoz places to visit
See more places nearby in the Extremadura guide