Caceres, our destination for the next couple of days was the first city in Spain to be granted heritage status as early as 1949 due to its lovely untouched by war or conflict walled old city, with the wall intact enclosing buildings from as early as the 15th century. In 1986 the old town became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Aiming for a free motorhome aire just a short walk from the centre we arrived to find it full. In fact it was overfull with several motorhomes crammed into tight corners. So we decided to make use of the free services topping up and emptying Buzz’s various tanks before going to find somewhere else to park. This led to a funny incident. There appears to be a parking space next to the service point but it is actually just an access point to a small council storage yard with no parking. We were just topping up our water when another motorhome drives down into what is a dead end with the service point at the end. This van, spotting us on the services and seeing what they thought was the last free space beside us accelerates, rushing to get in the space before we finish and take it (except of course we are not planning to). He then quickly swings around and starts backing in and straight into a little post with a crunch. He then straightens up and has another go and once parked the driver looks at me with a big cheesy grin and a ‘well I’m in the slot’ look and thumbs up. Until that is I point out he can’t park there and he promptly pulls out with a sheen of embarrassment and a nice new crack in his rear bumper. As for us we found a parking slot just 2 minutes away parking Buzz with plenty of space and just one neighbour. Happy days!
Next morning was cool but pleasant though with a chance of showers so warmer clothing and waterproof jackets were taken as we walked up into the city. We checked the original aire that now had several free spaces so we moved Buzz there first. From there the streets we passed through were typically Spanish, small and narrow with some tatty and some pretty houses and the occasional oversized church. And of course cars parked in every conceivable place at every conceivable angle. Then totally unexpectedly we walked through into the giant Plaza Mayor and everything changed. This large square is ringed on 3 sides by bars, cafes and restaurants as well as pastelerias and gift shops. Most of the other side is taken up by the city wall and administration buildings. Our first port of call, quite by chance turned out to be a pasteleria with a large choice of very tasty looking cakes and buns. Pasteleria La Isa is actually Caceres’ premier pastry shop, operating since 1952 and well known for its delights. Its most well known pastry is a mojicón – an oversized orange scented muffin traditionally dipped into Café con leche. Once inside the sugary sweet interior we struggled to choose and came out with 3 (yes I did say 3), oh well sometimes you just can’t decide.
Heading from there across the square for the tourist information office we went in to be greeted by very enthusiastic staff, one of whom offered to show us the places to visit using a large wooden model of the walled city. In excellent English he pointed out all the places worth seeing and a route we should follow to do so, starting with the wall above the gate by the office. This was 2euro at the Torre de Bujaco and included access to the city wall on the other side at Torre de los Pozzos through the old synagogue as well. While up there admiring the view we got our first bout of rain. So coats on we carried on into the old city making for the first suggested point, the Plaza de Santa Maria and the cathedral which as you would expect was a large and imposing building. At this point we should say the city is crammed with beautiful old buildings most of which have some importance/significance. We’re not going to go through them all but will mention a couple of those we liked.
From Santa Maria we walked through to Plaza de San Jorge (Saint George) the patron saint of the city. Here the rain came poured down again and as we were next to a cafe we dropped in for a coffee to let the it pass. We must also say that at this point we had lost the route we were advised to take so carried on wandering across to the church of San Francisco Javier where they have a display depicting the holy week festivities including the costumes worn during the parades. In the crypt there is also 1 of the cisterns in the lower level both which was interesting and worth looking at. As luck would have it we just beat a coach party in there.
From there we found ourselves in the Plaza de las Veletas where the Palacio de las Veletas home of the Cacares museum can be found. This is a nice little museum, free to EU citizens which also houses the 2 and older Arab built cistern. Coming out of there we turned what unfortunately was the wrong way walking to the Plazade San Mateo, from there wandering to and walking down alongside the outer wall. We eventually took stock only to discover we had missed the old Jewish Quarter and synagogue, behind the museum, turning back we made our way there. As always with us time had flown by and by the time we got to the Synagogue they were just closing for lunch (2.30) and we were informed they would re-open at 5.30. Hence we never got up the 2nd tower. We therefore carried on around the lovely Jewish quarter before starting to feel hunger pangs heading back to Plaza Mayor to find somewhere suitable for lunch.
As it turned out we ended up walking around the town as lots of places had closed for lunch (assuming you can call a 3 hour break lunch). Eventually we found a nice shop selling local produce, where we ended up buying some Torta del Casar cheese and some local Pimenton de la Vera spice (sweet smoked paprika). This delicious Extremadura mature sheep’s milk cheese originated in Casar de Cáceres and is named after it. We have got in the habit of having a #CheeseTuesday every week so it was an ideal opportunity to try a new regional cheese. Incredibly there are now only eight families who still produce this cheese and it protected by a Denominación de Origen to ensure its quality and authenticity. Apparently it takes 20 Merino and Entrefina sheep to make 2.2lb of Torta del Casar. There’s even a museum, The Museo del Queso, specially dedicated to it!
Finally we settled on a Tapas restaurant back in Plaza Mayor, La Tula, where we spent a pleasant hour or so having an unexpected free Pinchos starter with our beer and wine. We then ordered 3 Tapas that turned out to be plenty and Gastro tapas that were delicious, receiving free digestifs (a local plant based liquor) with the bill. Feeling satisfied and happy with our freebies we returned to Buzz to plan our next move.
Cacares should be on everybody’s itinerary as it’s full of character and an authentic Spanish town with plenty of history. The walled city is particularly impressive and well preserved, full of interest, some nice little shops and eateries, it can easily be done in less than a day.
Tourist Information – www.turismo.caceres.es