Although not as accessible and as well-known as other ancient Spanish cities, Cáceres is just as ideal for a weekend destination; it’s moderately-sized, budget-friendly, steeped in history and most important of all, it’s been named the gastronomical capital of Spain for 2015. Because, priorities.
The nuns who I live with kept insisting I get to know its Casco Antiguo – its walled quarter housing ancient churces, palaces, fortified Arab towers and different family homes blending Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. As you’ve already guessed, the Romans, the Arabs and the Jewish have all been here, each leaving their own stamp for us to revel in exploring centuries later. It’s also common to see pilgrims here stopping by as they follow the Camino de Santiago (pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela).
My trip to its ancient town started off as a fool’s errand as I entered the walls with an unreliable screenshot of Google maps in hand, in search of a tapas place recommended to me which then turned out to be temporarily shut due to renovation. The tapas place is calledLa Cacharrería, perfect timing you guys. It wasn’t fun to get lost then, not when you’re hungry and desperate for help and yet without a single soul in sight.
So I wasn’t off to a great start. A couple of beers, a few tapas (Migas de Extremadura and Torta de Casar, highly recommended) and a doughnut (this is optional) later, a firm believer in second chances, I made my way back through theArco de la Estrella, one of its many entrances and let myself get lost once more. If you’re ever in town, I urge you to do your exploring just before sunset when it’s at its best; its ancient stone walls turning into the perfect canvas for light and shadow to play which didn’t really help my excessive photo-taking. I’ve also read it’s just as worth seeing the town at night, if not more. Only I didn’t dare to venture out into the dark alone. This I slightly regret.
What’s great about the Casco Antiguo is you’ll know your way ’round within less than an hour of roaming around and you’ll be compelled to enter doors that are open to public; some are free, some will cost you a euro or two. We’ve also been told that way back in the day, for what seemed years on end, people closed themselves off from the outside world governed then by war. As much as I couldn’t imagine how life must be like back then within these walls, I think it’s safe to say it serves as the perfect refuge today; the minute you’re in, the very same walls can easily transport you back in time and make you forget all the demands of the outside world. Suffice to say, it was slightly painful to leave this place.