Spain-Estremadura, the Mother of the Conquistadores
105 images Created 3 Mar 2013
Extremadura, wedged between the most tourist Castile and Andalusia and missed by many tourists just passing through, but Spanish people, however, knows Extremadura as a place to sample some of inland Spain’s best food, roasted meats and the finest jamón (ham). Extremadura is a journey into the heart of the old Spain, from the country’s finest Roman ruins to intact medieval cities often included in UNESCO World Heritage like Mérida, Cáceres and Trujillo, rank among Spain’s's most beautifully preserved historical settlements. This harsh environment was the cradle of the conquistadores who opened up a new world for the Spanish empire and it was said that the Extremadura created about twenty nations of the Latin America. Remote before and forgotten since, Extremadura enjoyed a brief golden age when its heroes returned with their gold to live in splendour. Trujillo, the birthplace of Pizarro the conqueror of Peru, is the most attractive town in Extremadura and can feel truly magical, a classic conquistador stage set of escutcheoned mansions and castle walls virtually untouched since the sixteenth century. Càceres, in many ways remarkably like Trujillo, is an almost extraordinary preserved walled town, the Ciudad Monumental that survived almost intact from its 16th-century period of splendour. Narrow cobbled streets climb among ancient stone walls lined with mansions, arches and churches, while the skyline is decorated with turrets, gargoyles and storks nests. Then there is Mérida, the most completely preserved Roman city in Spain with a wonderful museum of statues, mosaics and other Roman artefacts. The small town of Guadalupe, perched up in the sierra to the west of Trujillo, is dominated by the great Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which for five centuries has brought fame and pilgrims to the area. Much of the monastic wealth came from returning conquistadores and the building is an architectural delight. In the south Zafra, with the seductive look of an Andalucian pueblo blanco (white village), is affectionately labelled 'Sevilla la chica' ('the little Seville'). Its narrow streets are lined with baroque churches and traditional decorated houses.