Cáceres: The Complete Guide

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Javier Losa

Cáceres is a city of Spain it is the capital and most populated municipality of the province of Cáceres. Cáceres lies at the feet of the Sierra de la Mosca, a modest hill range. It is part of the Vía de la Plata (“Silver Route”) path of the Camino de Santiago that crosses the west of the Iberian Peninsula in a north–south direction.

The medieval walled city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its narrow cobbled streets twist and climb among ancient stone walls lined with mansions, Renaissance palaces and churches crowned by storks’ nests.

Protected by defensive walls, it has survived almost intact from its 16th-century period of splendour. At dusk or after dark, when the crowds have gone, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the Middle Ages.


History of Cáceres

Early History of Cáceres

Cáceres, located in the autonomous community of Extremadura in western Spain, has a history that dates back to prehistoric times. The area around Cáceres contains some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in Europe, with ancient cave paintings found in the nearby Maltravieso Cave.

Roman Era in Cáceres

During the Roman period, Cáceres was known as Norba Caesarina. The Romans established a colony here in 34 BC, constructing roads, bridges, and fortifications. Remains of Roman architecture, such as the Roman walls and the Arco del Cristo, can still be seen in Cáceres today.

Cáceres in the Middle Ages

In the 8th century, Cáceres fell under Moorish control following the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors constructed a significant fortress, parts of which remain, including the iconic Torre de Bujaco. Cáceres changed hands multiple times between Muslim and Christian forces during the Reconquista, reflecting its strategic importance.

The Christian Reconquest of Cáceres

Cáceres was permanently recaptured by the Christian forces of King Alfonso IX of León in 1229. Following its reconquest, Cáceres became part of the Kingdom of León and later the Kingdom of Castile. The town experienced significant growth and development during this period, with the construction of numerous churches, palaces, and defensive structures.

Renaissance and the Golden Age of Cáceres

The 15th and 16th centuries marked a period of prosperity for Cáceres. Many noble families built grand palaces and mansions, contributing to the town’s impressive architectural heritage. The Plaza Mayor, with its Renaissance-era buildings, became the heart of the town. This era also saw the establishment of the University of Cáceres, further enhancing the town’s cultural and intellectual life.

Decline and Recovery of Cáceres

Following its Golden Age, Cáceres experienced a period of decline in the 17th and 18th centuries, due in part to economic challenges and political instability. However, the 19th century brought a revival, with renewed interest in the town’s historical and cultural heritage. Restoration efforts began, aiming to preserve Cáceres’ rich architectural legacy.

Cáceres in the 20th Century

The 20th century was a transformative period for Cáceres. The town expanded beyond its medieval walls, modernizing its infrastructure while preserving its historic core. In 1986, the Old Town of Cáceres was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its exceptional preservation and historical significance.

Contemporary Cáceres

Today, Cáceres is a vibrant city that blends its historical heritage with modern amenities. The city hosts numerous cultural events, festivals, and exhibitions, attracting visitors from around the world. The well-preserved medieval architecture, along with its lively cultural scene, makes Cáceres a unique and engaging destination.

Visiting Cáceres for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Cáceres on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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Best places to See in

1. Explore the Old Town (Ciudad Monumental)

Stroll through the Old Town of Cáceres, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets and admire the historic buildings, including palaces, churches, and towers.

2. Visit the Plaza Mayor

Visit the Plaza Mayor, the bustling heart of Cáceres. This lively square is surrounded by historic buildings and offers numerous cafes and restaurants where you can relax and soak in the local atmosphere.

3. Discover the Cáceres Museum

Explore the Cáceres Museum, located in the Casa de las Veletas. The museum showcases a wide range of exhibits, including archaeological finds, fine art, and ethnographic collections. Don’t miss the impressive Arab cistern in the basement.

4. Tour the Concatedral de Santa María

Visit the Concatedral de Santa María, a stunning Gothic cathedral in the heart of the Old Town. Admire its beautiful facade, intricate altarpieces, and climb the bell tower for panoramic views of the city.

5. Admire the Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo

Explore the Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo, a magnificent Renaissance palace that once hosted the Catholic Monarchs. The palace features beautiful courtyards, elegant rooms, and a collection of artworks.

6. Walk Along the City Walls

Take a walk along the ancient city walls of Cáceres. These well-preserved fortifications offer stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Key highlights include the Bujaco Tower and the Arco de la Estrella.

7. Visit the Iglesia de San Francisco Javier

Explore the Iglesia de San Francisco Javier, a Baroque church known for its twin spires and striking facade. The church is located in the Plaza de San Jorge and often hosts art exhibitions and cultural events.

8. Discover the Casa Museo Árabe

Visit the Casa Museo Árabe, a small museum dedicated to the Arab heritage of Cáceres. The museum provides insights into the daily life, architecture, and culture of the Moors during their occupation of the city.

9. Relax in the Parque del Príncipe

Spend time in the Parque del Príncipe, one of the largest parks in Cáceres. Enjoy the beautiful gardens, fountains, and walking paths. The park is a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

10. Explore the Fundación Mercedes Calles y Carlos Ballestero

Visit the Fundación Mercedes Calles y Carlos Ballestero, housed in the Casa de los Becerra. The foundation hosts various art exhibitions, cultural events, and educational programs, making it a cultural hub in the city.

Best Time to Visit Cáceres

Visiting Cáceres in Spring

Spring, from March to May, is an ideal time to visit Cáceres. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). This season is perfect for exploring the historic old town and enjoying outdoor activities, as the landscapes are lush and vibrant.

Visiting Cáceres in Summer

Summer, from June to August, is the peak tourist season in Cáceres. The weather is warm to hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). Despite the heat, summer is a great time to experience local festivals and events. The evenings are particularly pleasant for strolling through the city and enjoying outdoor dining.

Visiting Cáceres in Autumn

Autumn, from September to November, is another excellent time to visit Cáceres. The temperatures are cooler, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), making it comfortable for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The autumn colors add a beautiful backdrop to the historic architecture, and the city is less crowded than in summer.

Visiting Cáceres in Winter

Winter, from December to February, is mild in Cáceres, with temperatures averaging between 5°C and 15°C (41°F to 59°F). This is the off-peak tourist season, offering a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. Winter is a good time to explore indoor attractions such as museums and historic buildings without the crowds. The festive holiday decorations and events add charm to the city during this season.

Average Temperatures in Cáceres

  • January 14°C 6
  • February 17°C 7
  • March 19°C 8
  • April 26°C 8
  • May 29°C 4
  • June 34°C 2
  • July 39°C 0
  • August 37°C 1
  • September 32°C 5
  • October 27°C 10
  • November 19°C 9
  • December 16°C 9

How to get to Cáceres

By Air to Cáceres

The nearest major airport to Cáceres is Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD), located about 300 kilometers away. From the airport, you can reach Cáceres by rental car, bus, or train.

By Train to Cáceres

Cáceres is well-connected by train, with regular services from major Spanish cities. RENFE operates trains from Madrid, which take approximately 3.5 hours. The train station in Cáceres is conveniently located close to the city center.

By Bus to Cáceres

Several bus companies operate routes to Cáceres from various cities across Spain. Buses from Madrid to Cáceres take around 4-5 hours. The main bus station in Cáceres is centrally located, providing easy access to the city’s attractions.

By Car to Cáceres

Driving to Cáceres is a convenient option, especially if you plan to explore the surrounding region. From Madrid, the drive takes about 3 hours via the A-5 and EX-100 highways. The city is well-connected by road, making it easy to navigate by car.

By Local Transportation in Cáceres

Once in Cáceres, you can explore the city by walking or using the local bus network. Taxis are also readily available for getting around. Walking is particularly enjoyable in Cáceres due to its compact size and the close proximity of major attractions.

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