This region “beyond the Duero” (extremos del Duero) is larger than Switzerland with an area of over 40,000 square kilometers, but is among the most underdeveloped and sparsely-populated border provinces in Spain. Countless residents have emigrated over the centuries. To the north, the region is rainy and mountainous. The highest mountain is the Torreón (2,400 m) on the border of Salamanca. Further south, the land becomes more dry and is vegetated with holm oaks and cork trees. Iberian pigs are kept in its wooded groves, where they feed on acorns. Extremadura is famous for its ham (Jamónes Ibéricos). It is also home to a number of endangered species, including lynx, great bustards, cranes, black storks and wolves.
Nothing much has changed in Cáceres since the Renaissance, when the returning conquistadors built their palaces in the ancient city. A walk through the Ciudad (old town) is thus a journey back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A fully preserved city wall replete with towers and gates separates the medieval core, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the newer districts. The best view of Cáceres and the vast landscapes of Extremadura that surround it can be had from the top of a hill 2 km south of town.
Important center for medieval medicine in the Monastery of Santa María
After the Spaniards had reconquered the Extremadura from the Moors in the 14th century, a shepherd is said to have found a wooden panel depicting Maria, which had survived the 600 years of Muslim rule. The Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe was founded at the location of the find. The king held the patronage rights over the monastery, which provided it with influence and wealth and enabled Guadalupe to develop into an important center for medicine. Three hospitals and a large library have survived to this day. This is also where the first scientific autopsy in the world was conducted in 1402. Today, the monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Urban plazas with an Andalusian flair
The Romans founded this town and the Moors later gave it the name Zafar. It still exudes an Andalusian Moorish atmosphere. This is especially so in the “Great Plaza,” which is lined with palms and magnificent city houses dating to the 18th century. The Plaza Chica with its arcades was constructed by the Arabs and the town's 15th-century castle now serves as a parador. Toward the end of September and the beginning of October, the town is the site of a five-hundred-year-old annual livestock market, the Feria Internacional Ganadera.