Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Medieval Caceres: A Travel Back in Time (Medieval Caceres Series 17)

Medieval Caceres 
A Travel Back in Time
Medieval Caceres Series 17

Day 1 

After almost a 5 hours scenic
bus drive fro Lisbon, Portugal-

…we arrived in Caceres, Spain,

…late in the afternoon.

...located at the peaceful Calle Muñoz Chaves,

…right at the heart of the old town of Caceres,
probably one of the oldest towns in the world.

It was a beautiful, two level,

…two bedroom apartment,

…wit complete provisions
to make us feel at home.

This would be our home for the next five days,
at the third stop of our European spring vacation.

After settling down and resting for a while,
we were off to look for a place to eat.

We passed by Charcutteria Mostazo,

…a unique Spanish supermercado,
which did not only provide us with
our basic grocery needs, but also
served as an awesome delicatessen,

…that sells a wide selection of ethnic 
products from the Extremadura region.

We bought some groceries and took them back home.
 We were lucky to have as our next door neighbor
dining a kitchen facility. Charcutteria Mostazo
made living in our apartment easier and convenient,

…and we always looked forward dining
our own delicious home cooked meals.

We walked pour way to the Plaza Mayor,

…and El Requete was the
very first restaurant we saw,

…there was a vacant table for four, so
we immediately decided to dine there.

Sitting at the al fresco section of the restaurant
overlooking the Plaza Mayor and the famous
Arco de la Estrella, we had one of the most
wonderful dining experiences of our lives.

It was already late in the afternoon and we
were all starving when arrived in Caceres
after a six hour bus trip from Lisbon, as we
had not eaten anything except for the very
early breakfast at the hotel before leaving,

…the grapes at the Gare do Oriente,

…and the native sour candies in Badajos

El Requete introduced us to
 authentic Spanish cuisine,

…and a culinary awakening, as it enlightened
us how our Filipino food  was influenced by the
Spaniards after almost 400 years of colonization.

Salty, and greasy yet very delicious.

Our overall dining experience was outstanding, and I would
recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Caceres.

We returned to our apartment after dinner to rest,
as we intended too explore the old city at night.
My wife and my young son decided to rest
and go to sleep as they got exhausted of the
six- hour bus travel from Lisbon, Portugal.

Together with my teenage daughter, we decided to explore
the old town at night as it ids the most recommended time
to appreciate the splendor and archaic stillness of Caceres.
Armed with a map provided by our apartment host,

…we began our exploration at
the Plaza Mayor, which serves
as a portal to the old town.

It is lined with restaurants, bars, elegant
arcades and numerous souvenir shops set in
excellently restored centuries old buildings.

From the Plaza Mayor, we accesssx
the old town at the Arco de Estrella,

..the main entrance to the walled
enclosure to this medieval city.

Within its walls, we stood in awe,

…spellbound with the incredulous
sensation of stepping back in time.

A fabulous collection of medieval buildings,

… in an excellent state of conservation,

…that together with Prague in the Czech Republic and
 Tallinn in Estonia was declared by the Council of Europe
as the Third Monumental Complex of Europe in 1968,

…and earned the nickname as the
 "Monumental City of Cáceres".

To avoid distraction, I set aside the map
and suggested to my daughter that we
should just explore the city in the raw,

…enjoy the sights and sounds,
and take pleasure of the strange
feeling of stepping back in the past.

We explored every street, every nook
and cranny of the lovely old town.

We walked on beautiful and narrow cobblestone alleyways
with our footsteps echoing on the quiet walls of the ancient
buildings reflecting the glorious grandness of a by-gone era.

It’s the beautiful sound of silence that makes
Caceres was hauntingly stunning at night.

My daughter commented “It’s like we are
in the Twilight Zone” referring to the popular
American macabre television series often
concluding with an unexpected grisly twist.

Indeed, Caceres at night made us return to the
past without having to use a time machine.

It is an experience I would never forget.

We returned to our apartment past midnight,
and had a good night sleep in our apartment.

Day 2

It was our second day in Caceres, Spain.
After having a home cooked breakfast at

…we headed to the Plaza Mayor for
a more intensive self guided tour at
the walled ancient town of Caceres.

We were in early and there were very
few people at the Plaza Mayor and we
stood to admire the huge central square.

Ayutamiento de Caceres or the City Hall, is located
at the other end of the plaza. It is an imposing very old
building overlooking and the seat on the city government.

We then visited the Caceres Tourism Office,
had our pictures taken at the office’s glass
walls, bearing the town’s name of Caceres,
and the kids were very amused as Caceres
also happened to be our family’s surname.

We also had pictures taken at the stairways
leading to the ancient walled city,

…and at the entrance of the Torre de Bujaco,

…before heading to the Arco de la Estrella,
the main portal to the UNESCO Heritge site
that bears the image of Virgen de las Estrellas.

On the right we spotted another ancient
arch at the Calle Adarve de la Estrella.

After the arch, at the left side of Calle de la Estrella,
We walked past the Palacio Episcopal de Cáceres
the bishop’s palace of the diocese of Coria-Cáceres.

…and right in front is the Concatedral de Santa María.

the oldest structure in the walled city  is considered  
the most important Christian temple in Cáceres .

Inside the beautiful Romanesque –Gothic church,

…is the Museum of the Co-Cathedral, with a display
of collections of liturgical pieces, priceless silverworks
from ancient artisans and numerous religious paintings.

After visiting the Concatedral de Santa María,
admired the old buildings at the Plaza Sta. Maria,

…walked past the Plaza de los Golfines,

…to Plaza de San Jorge.

We visited the Palacio de los Becerra,
a 15th century family ancestral home,

…and now also serves as a museum.

The view of Plaza de San Jorge is dominated by

We next visited this Baroque style Jesuit
church built next to an ancient convent.

… it now serves mainly as a museum and the crypt
contains the Interpretation Center of Holy Week .

we hiked up at the Calle Cuesta de la Campana,

…which led us to the Plaza San Pablo,

…and the adjoining Plaza de las Veletas,

…where Museo de Caceres was located.

The Museo de Caceres would have been
the fourth museum we visited for the day
but we were told that they’re closed for the
afternoon siesta and advised to return at 5 PM.

It was then that we realized that it was
already past noon so we decided to return
to the apartment and to have our lunch.

We walked down the Barrio de San Antonio,

on to Calle Rincon de la Monja,

...until we reached the Casa Museao Arabe
which was also closed for the afternoon siesta.

We then slowly walked up
 the Cuesta de la Marques,

...and ended up at the
Plaza de San Jorge,

...where we walked to the
nearby Plaza Sta. Maria,

out of Arco de Estrella,

….leading to Plaza Mayor,

…and back to Encanto
at Calle Munoz Chavez.

We decided to dine on the canned eel that
we bought from Fabrica Das Enguias in
Lisbon, but we were shocked to see a creepy
whole eel all coiled up inside the can.

I cut it off into small pieces so the
 kids won’t be terrified to eat it.

It went well with the Maria Biscuits
(we call it Marie in the Philippines),
and we had a one of its kind snacks.

After the siesta break was over, we returned to
the Museo de Caceres using a different entrance,

…at the Plaza Publio Hurtado,
a scenic narrow a steep road.

… leading to the Arco de Sta Ana,
an alternative route to the walled city.

We traversed the very narrow
Calle del Arcode Sta Ana,

...on to another narrow
road the Calle Condes,

…which led us again
to Plaza San Mateo,

…to the adjoining Plaza San Pablo,

…and finally to Plaza las Veletas
where Museo de Caceres is located.

It was already past five in the afternoon,
the museum has opened after the siesta,
nd we were able to view the massive display,

…of historical artifacts ,

…the this awesome museum set in
two ancient buildings considered
as UNESCO Heritage structures.

We stayed the museum until it closed at 7 PM
and returned to home thru the Plaza San Mateo,

We accessed the Calle de la Monja.

…where we incidentally found the lovely
Medieval Caceres Apartamentos Turisticos.

Since the facility bears our surname,
we decided to have our pictures
taken in front of the tourist apartment.

We then walked to the Cuesta de Aldana, where
the El Corral De Las Cigüeñas, a café built at the
patio of the old Rectory of Santa María  which offers
a wide repertoire of live concerts and some tapas.

We truned to Calle del Mono,

...which led us back to Plaza Sta. Maria.

We took the Calle Tiendas,

… en- route to Calle Zapataria,

…and finally to Calle Munoz Chaves,back

It was a 13 hour city tour on foot on one of the oldest towns
in the world, that took us to a large number of 15th and 16th
century properly conserved historic fortresses and palaces.


…that bears the traces of highly diverse influences,
that evolved from different centuries and generations.

Day 3

It was our third day in Caceres and we woke up late.
I got down from the apartment to buy something to
cook for breakfast at the Charcutteria Mostarzo, and
found out that it was closed at it was a ‘fiesta official.

I decided to look for a restaurant at the nearby
Plaza Mayor where I could buy breakfast but
most are are closed for the a public holiday.

I walked farther down the road to Calle Pintores
 and saw Granier,the only open dining facility on
a place that a public holiday put into a standstill.

The smorgasbord of freshly baked
artisanal bread was a sight to behold.

The aroma of oven fresh bread from
Granier Bakery, was a prelude a delicious
breakfast, that everyone is craving for.

It was our fiesta official’s breakfast savior.

After breakfast we are set to explore the other side
of Caceres, away from the walled city, to see what
the city had to offer beyond the monumental walls.

We walked at the other end of the almost deserted 
Plaza Mayor, posed  in front of the City Hall,


…turned to the busy Calle Pintores,

…and visited the Parroquia San Juan Bautista,
where the mass service has just been concluded.

From the church,

… we proceeded to the Calle San Pedro,

…where we rested for a
while on a  sidewalk bench,

…and spotted another Charcutteria Mostarzo. 
We were disappointed to find out that just
like their store near our apartment, this one
it was also closed for the ‘Fiesta Official’

We then walked our way to
the Caceres Opera House
along the Calle San Anton,

…all the way to Avenida de Espana,

…until we reached the
Parque de Calvo Sotelo.

It was a long walk from the Plaza Mayor.
so we decided to stop and rest once more,
to enjoy the rustic ambiance of the park.

We crossed the Calle General Primo de Rivera,

…that led as to the beautiful Paseo de Cánovas.

The Paseo de Cánovas is a public park
at the center of the Cánovas neighborhood, 

…to which it gives its name, within
the Centro-Casco Antiguo District.

It is a verdant outdoor mall at the 
 center island of  Avenida de Espana,

 ..built at the end of the 19th century, and named after
a Spanish politician, Antonio Canovas del Castillo.
It is the heart of the commercial area, and the usual
venue for various cultural events throughout the year,
and we extremely enjoyed the on- going puppet show.

Along the Paseo de Cánovas, was
a lively weekend farmers market,

…and we were overwhelmed by the magnitude
                    of indigenous Extremadura products on display.                 

The Weekend Market is a tourist attraction
that features probably more than 100 vendors.

The market is a destination for foodies
in search of the market's ethnic cuisines,

…and of showcase Extremadura’s
cuisine in specialty food market.

We were happy to stumble upon
this wonderful weekend market
that gave us everything we needed,

…as we were running out of food due to
 supermarket closures on Fiesta Official.

It was late in the afternoon and
we have been walking the whole
day without having any lunch.

From the Caceres weekend market we
went to the Restaurante Caceres to dine.

The Restaurante Caceres, has a lovely al fresco
area that offers an awesome view of the Plaza Mayor. 

It served us some of the most 
delicious Extramaduran dishes.

It was our penultimate day in Caceres


…and we were happy that we chose

…as it gave us a delicious culinary conclusion on 
our visit to this wonderful ancient city in Spain

It was our penultimate day in Caceres, and we were
happy the we chose to dine at Restaurante Caceres,

…as it gave us a delicious culinary conclusion on
our visit to this wonderful ancient city in Spain.

We returned to our apartment
after the very late lunch to rest.


At five PM, after the siesta was over, while everyone
 decided  to stay home to rest and relax, I returned
to the old town for some more explorations.

I went on foot, took photos randomly,

…and headed to posh Parador de Caceres.


The Parador Caceres is a luxury hotel 


...wjere we initially reserved here but failed to 
ge  a family room as they were fully booked.

The hotel set is an ancient Gothic palace is an
attraction by itself so I really needed to see it.

It was the Palace of Torreoraz built in the 14th century for
Diego Garcia de Ulloa, a knight of the Order of Santiago.


From the Parador de Caceres, I chanced upon
the House of the Ovando or Ovando Palace
a Renaissance style building  built in 1519.

The palace façade also served as a settingfor numerous European films,   
one of which was Alain Delon’s El Tulipán Negro in 1963. Lucky for me, 
it was open despite being a holiday and they also have a free entrance.

It now serves as the city’s armory museum,
with  wide collection of period armory,

… artworks depicting armor, paintings,
war photographs, ancient sculptures,

…and even recreated battle sets.

I returned to our apartment, taking
pictures randomly along the way.


We slept early that night as we would
be leaving for Madrid the next day.

Day 4

It was our last day in Caceres, we all woke
up early as we would be leaving for Madrid.


We sautéed the sausages we bought from the
Weekend Market and had them for breakfast.


We walked our way to Plaza del Duque and
phoned a taxi to take us to the train station.


We were at he Caceres train station two
hours earlier for a 10 AM train to Madrid,


…and we had enough time to
explore the rustic train station.




Our young son was amused of seeing
our surname Caceres all over the place.



The train arrived exactly on time,


…and we were it for another two hour
scenic train ride to Spain’s Capital city,


…our final stop for our
Spring European vacation.