The capital of the province of Caceres. The city has the same name and has over 90,000 inhabitants. The origins of the city’s name are still a topic of discussion between two sides. One side believes it comes from the name of the roman colonies Norba Caesarina and Castra Caecilia. The other side thinks that it has an Arab origin; they named the city Al-Qazires or Al-Qazeres.
The city is also known as the city with a 1001 weapon shields, thanks to the enormous amount of family weapons that you find on many buildings in the centre.
It is the primary tourist centre for Extremadura, making tourism the primary source of income for Caceres. As it is the biggest city of the region it also is the commercial and administrative centre of the province, and the services sector has developed especially well.
Like in Badajoz prehistoric remains were found in Caceres. In various caves images of human handprints were found that date back to the Palaeolithic Age. During the 1st century a.C. the Romans established two encampments near the colony of Norba Caesarina and near the route of communication that we nowadays know as the Ruta de la Plata. The Visigoths arrived after the fall of the Roman Empire and destroyed the city in the 5th century a.C and for over 4 centuries nothing was heard of the city. There are no documents of that time and in history books there is also no mention of the city.
The Arabs reconstructed the city because of its strategic location near to the frontlines of the war against the Christians. During the 12th century the Arabs built a defensive wall, causing the city to fall only after a long assault on 23 April 1229 when King Alfonso IX of León rode victoriously into the city. The city received many funds coming from the Americas with which many churches, palaces and other monuments were built.
After the Reconquista the city knew peace and could grow further. Because it didn’t suffer more attacks and sieges it is now one of the best preserved monumental cities of the world. Besides being a monumental city, the Caceres of today is also a modern city that has everything available that you need. But it are the monuments that you encounter everywhere in the city that are the primary tourist attractions for which you have to visit Caceres.
Monuments of Caceres
Torre de Bujaco
The Torre de Bujaco is the best known monument of Caceres. It is located on the Plaza Mayor and stands 25 metres tall. The tower is of Arab origin but was also used by the Brothers of Caceres who defended the tower against the attacks of the Spanish Arab caliph Abu Ya’qub in 1173. He ordered the renovation of the tower after his victory, but he lost it again to the Christian Reconquista. Much later, in the 16th century two balconies were added and in the 18th century two outlook posts, one on the front and the other on the other side. The name probably originates from the word buhaco, the statue of the Genio Andrógino that was placed on the balcony between 1820 and 1962.
It also had a clock between 1672 and 1791 and was therefore also known as the Torre del Reloj. It is open for tourists who can take a good look of the city from the roof of the building.
The Church of Santa Maria
The Church of Santa Maria was originally a mosque, but was turned into a church after the Reconquista. Construction lasted from the 13th to the 16th century. It has been built with granite stones in the Romantic style, but with Gothic influences. The bell tower was built between 1554 and 1559, in Renaissance style. Following the city’s necessity to be able to defend itself, the church is a square building with little exterior decoration. Inside we find the central altar, made in 1551. The church also houses a museum that shows sacramental works. Centrepiece is an organ that dates back to 1703 and which is still in use today.
The Palacio de las Veletas
We find this building in the best part of the old almohade alcazar. It is one of the few buildings that don’t contain defensive elements. It was built in 1477 by Diego Gómez de Torres. Lorenzo de Ulloa completely refurbished the building in 1600. On the façade there are two big coats of arms of the families of both architects. On the roof there is a large railing with gargoyles and the weathervanes (veletas) that give the building its name.
Inside is the museum of Caceres, which contains important archaeological and ethnographical works, as well as many pieces of artwork. But the basement of the palace is where we find the most spectacular sight. The basement measures 10 by 15 metres and has partially been dug out of the natural stone. There are 16 arches that are supported by 12 columns, some of which are of Roman origin.