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  • Day862

    Cáceres & Trujillo

    October 15, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    When we last visited Cáceres in 2018, the weather was so bad that our planned 3-day stay turned into one as we left to find better weather. This time, the sun was shining which made for some exploring.

    The municipal campsite where we stayed is quite unique in that every pitch has it's own bathroom with individual boilers, so plenty of hot water on demand.

    The 'Cuidad Monumental' (Monumental City) in the centre of Cáceres was founded by the Romans in 34 BC. In the 12th century, defensive walls and towers were built over the Roman foundations. Like everywhere else in these parts, first the Visigoths ruled, then the Arabs, and Christians then followed with King Alfonso IX of León incorporating the city into his kingdom. Wealth brought back from the Americas enabled the city to build impressive churches and palaces. Also brought back from the Americas, as a conquistadors wife, was Isabel Moctezuma, daughter of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. What she must have thought of all this is anyone's guess. Also, we've noticed that the name 'Isabel' became very popular during this period, Queen Isabel was obviously very popular or very powerful!

    Few people actually live here now, though the modern-day town that surrounds it is home to around 96,000 people, and to wander around it feels like taking a step back in time with narrow, cobbled streets that twist and climb, and grand buildings decorated with gargoyles, spires and turrets that remain unchanged since the 16th century, worthy of its UNESCO accreditation.

    The historic town of Trujillo is also recognised as one of Spain's 'Most Beautiful Towns' and now we know why. Some 30 miles from Cáceres, our bike journey took us across golden dry plains, the only inhabitants seemed to be cattle and sheep, but there, in the middle of nowhere, high on a hill, was the medieval town of Trujillo.

    The beautiful and atmospheric Plaza Major, surrounded by baroque and Renaissance buildings, is a stunner with a large bronze equestrian statue of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro taking centre stage. We sat in one of the pretty restaurants overlooking the square marveling at the views in front of us. We were also marvelling at what Chris chose for lunch - scrambled eggs with prawns and gulas. I had no idea what 'gulas' were but Chris said had a pretty good idea. Traditionally, 'angulas' are baby eels or elvers, eaten when they are 2-3 years old, just a couple of inches long. However, over-fishing has meant that the price compares with caviar today. Hence, what we see in restaurants and supermarkets are imitations made of compressed fish but which definitely look like the real thing. Thank goodness, or maybe not.

    From the 600m high 10th century castle of Islamic origin, we had fantastic panoramic views as we patrolled the battlements before we climbed into the Chapel of Our Lady of the Victory, the towns patron saint, where a 50 cent coin would see her spin on her stand - we didn't.

    After all the churches, basilica and museums that we have visited recently, it was just nice to wander around these two atmospheric towns and enjoy the peacefulness.
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