Caceres is an amazing city. It has Roman, Moorish and conquistador architecture, is surrounded by medieval walls, has numerous palaces replete with stork-topped watchtowers and managed to avoid the wars and so remains amazingly intact. It was the first city in Spain to become a listed UNESCO World Heritage site.
Caceres is also a lively university town and hosts an annual WOMAD (world music) festival.
Spain This Way Comment: Caceres really is a beautiful town with a great main square and a charming medieval old town.
The old town of Caceres is called the 'Ciudad Monumental' and is surrounded by its ancient walls and lots of defensive towers. Little has changed since medieval times and as a result it is often used for film settings. The walls date to Roman times in places but are largely of Moorish construction.
The Plaza Major of Caceres is just outside the town walls. The main gateway into the town is here. Called the Arco de la Estrella it is an arched gateway with 15th century watchtowers on either side of it. The Plaza Mayor is always buzzing with people and its edges are packed with bars and restaurants making it a great place to stop for drinks or dinner.
On a night the buildings in the old town are beautifully illuminated and from the restaurants on the edge of the Plaza Mayor you get a great view of the old town lit up.
Just by here is the conquistador Palace de Toledo-Moctezuma with a domed tower. During the exploration of the New World, the daughter of the Aztec Emperor was brought back to this building as the bride of its owner.
On entering the old town through the Arco de la Estrella you arrive at the Plaza de Santa Maria. This square has the Episcopal palace, the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria and the Casa de los Golfines de Abajo. This 16 th century mansion is a mix of Gothic and Plateresque styles and has an excellent ornamental facade.
The cathedral is a mix of Gothic and Roman styles and is one of the most important buildings in Caceres. Inside it has a magnificent altarpiece. The Episcopal palace dates from the 13th century with a newer part from the 17th century.
Nearby is the San Jorge Square, home to the Baroque San Francisco Javier church and the Baroque Convent of the Compania de Jesus.
Another square to the west, the Plaza de San Mateo has the church of San Mateo which is built on the site of an earlier mosque. The Cas y Torre de la Ciguena, or 'House of the Stork' is also on the square. This is the only tower in Caceres that was allowed to keep its original defensive tower because its owner stayed loyal to Isabel.
Caceres has many towers. There are thirty from the Muslim period. The Torre de Bujaco, a square (well almost) tower is the most well-known of these.
There are many fine palaces and houses (casas) in Caceres. The Casa Arabe is a Moorish house whose interior has been decorated in Moorish style and is interesting to visit. The Casa del Mono (House of the Monkey) has a stone monkey in its courtyard and gargoyles on its facade. It is now the town library.
Wander the streets of the old town and there are wonderful buildings, family crests, and plenty of bars and restaurants.
Another charming feature of Caceres is its huge stork population. Many of the buildings in the old town are topped by a stork and stork's nest.
The Parador of Cacares is a medieval palace transformed into a hotel and sits within the city walls in the old quarter. Worth treating yourself if you can!
Museums in Caceres
The Museo de Caceres is housed in the Casa de las Veletas. It contains archaeology and ethnology exhibits but really the building itself is the star attraction. It still has its Moorish Alcazar with lots of arches. A museum not to miss even if you are not an archaeology fan.
The Casa de los Caballos (House of Horses) Art Museum houses modern art by Miro, Picasso and Arroyo as well as El Greco's Jesus Salvador in the medieval section.
Where to visit near Caceres?
Trujillo with its superb main square is 45 minutes away. Nearby on the border with Portugal is the town of Alcantara with its old Roman bridge and Romanesque buildings. North of Caceres is Guadalupe home to the famous Monestery of Guadalupe which is one of Spain's most popular attractions.