From Cáceres to Trujillo
Basilica of Santa Lucía del Trampal. Alcuéscar
The bridge between Extremadura and the Americas
Trujillo, a mediaeval town and cradle of conquistadors, is an outstanding tourist destination. As we approach from Cáceres, we pass through fields and wooded pastures which serve as grazing for fighting bulls, and the distinctive Iberico breed of pig from which the famous cured hams and sausages of Extremadura are made. These villages of whitewashed houses, ancient noble mansions, churches and castles make the ideal place for stopping on our way.
We start our route, which can be done in one or two days, heading southwards. Leaving Cáceres, the A-66 dual carriageway known as the Autovía de la Plata (Silver Road) takes us very near Alcuéscar, about 40 kilometres away. In the area near the village stands the basilica of Santa Lucía del Trampal, one of the few Visigoth churches (7th century) still surviving in Spain today. From Alcuéscar we continue on along various local roads into the region of the Sierra de Montánchez and Los Ibores. First we come to the village of Montánchez, 10 kilometres away. This is the centre of production for excellent cured hams and wines, and is also known for its castle, of Almohad origin (12th century), and its noble houses. Seven kilometres further on in Valdefuentes, it is well worth visiting the scarce remains of the old 16th-century palace of the Marquises of Valdefuentes, the Baroque church of Bienvenida (17th century) and the church of the old convent of San Agustín (18th century), a large building which was known as the 'little Escorial'. For 40 kilometres we continue on through a landscape of vineyards and wooded pastures where we'll see fighting bulls grazing; we'll pass through typical mountain villages such as Torremocha, Botija, Plasenzuela, Ruanes, Salvatierra de Santiago and Zarza de Montánchez. Here we make a stop to see the 16th-century Gothic-Renaissance church of San Miguel, one of the largest churches in the region. Nine kilometres further on we come to Almoharín. Its church of El Salvador has a splendid porticoed gallery or loggia which gives onto the Plaza Mayor square. In Miajadas, 12 kilometres away, stands the Gothic-Renaissance church of Santiago Apóstol dating from the 15th-16th century. We continue on for another 33 kilometres, passing through Escurial, Alcollarín, Zorita and Herguijuela, on our way to Trujillo. Our penultimate stop is in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located approximately nine kilometres away at the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains beside the A-5 dual carriageway. It is well worth stopping to visit the churches of La Veracruz (Gothic-Renaissance, 16th century) and the convent of Los Agustinos (17th century), as well as the remains of the pre-Roman hill fort and necropolis known as the Castro de la Sierra de Santa Cruz. We end our route 14 kilometres further on in Trujillo, the birthplace of conquistadors such as Francisco de Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana. Dating from pre-Roman times, this attractive historic and artistic site revolves around the parts known as 'the town and the city'. The 'town' corresponds to what was the urban centre in mediaeval times; it stands on the ridge of El Zorro and is surrounded by a wall with 17 towers. It is presided by the 9th-century Arab castle, later extended by the Christians in the 12th century. Also worth visiting, among numerous other sites, are buildings such as the church of Santa María la Mayor, late Romanesque (13th century), with Renaissance and Plateresque parts (16th century), and the mansions of Chaves el Viejo (Gothic, 14th-15th century). The part known as 'the city' arose in the 15th and 16th centuries outside the mediaeval walls, and revolves around the famous Plaza Mayor square with its colonnades. It is home to monuments such as the mansions of Viejo and La Cadena (15th-16th century), San Carlos (16th century), Marquis of La Conquista (Plateresque, 16th century) and Juan Pizarro de Orellana (16th century), as well as its unique bullring, inaugurated in 1848.