The monumental city of Cáceres was officially granted “Heritage of Mankind” status in 1985. The walled area of “Old quater”(as it is locally Known) was declared a National Monument in 1930. Many years later the Council of Europe classed it as the second most important monumental city of the Old Continent.
Nevertheless, Cáceres is not a city held back in time. This provincial capital,with 84,319 inhabitants,is undergoing an ever-increasing upsurge in its tourist trade, as more and more visitors are eager to discover the secrets of its quiet, narrow streets and large, beautiful palaces.
A visit to the old part of the city, be it at any hour of the day or night, is like walking into a mediaval town. this is perhaps the city’s most important asset. To the east lie the remains of the old Roman city, seen in the Arch of El Cristo, although the main entrance gate stands next to the Plaza Mayor. The latter is called the Arch of La Estrella and was built by Churriguera in the 18C.
This Gate leads us through to streets and squares with a very historic flavour. The first square encountered is that of Santa Maria and it is here that the visitor will find the 13C Cathedral of the diocese of Coria and Caceres. Historian believe that it was built sometime between the years 1169 and 1173, when for a short time the town was under Christian control, before its final reconquest in 1229 by King Alfonso IX.
Next to the Cathedral stands Carvajal palace, the headquaters of the Caceres Tourist Authorities. It has a round tower, constructed of rubble masonry in the Almohade style, and dating from the 12C. Ovando Palace is in the Renaissance style and the sgraffito on the wall gives us some idea of its importance in the life of Caceres during the 16C.It was built by the Ovando family. Nicolas Ovando was appointed Governor of the Indies by the Catholic Monarchs, taking the place of Christopher Columbus and Francisco de Bobadilla in the New World.
The Episcopal Palace was constructed by Bishop Galarza ,as started on the main portal which itself is surrounded by double ashlars.
A street away lies the Gothic Mayor algo Palace, and to the most beautiful constructions in all Caceres. This is the Palace of Los Golfines de Abajo, which has a fine tower dating from the 14C. It was here where the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, stayed when they came to the city.
The recently-constructed square known as the Plaza de San Jorge is an ideal place for the visitor to acquire typical Estremadura crafts. Is is also the location of two fine buildings: Church of San Francisco Javier, and the 15C House of los Becerra, which has a great sculpted stone doorway and a magnificent Gothic window.
Going up a sloping street we reach the church of San Mateo , which was a former Almohade mosque. Next to its stands the high tower belonging to the Palace of Las Ciguenas, the latter being the location of the present-day Military Government offices.
Not far away is the Provincial Museum, situated within the House of Las Veletas, which preserves an Almohade water deposit since it was here where the Moorish citadel once stood. During the 17C it was the ancestral home of the Ulloa family.
In the upper part of the city, oposite the museum, is the Palace of Los Golfines de Arriba , dating from the 15C. It has a fine keep and an outstanding archive. In addition there is an art gallery with works by luis Morales.
The wealth obtained from America also left its mark in this walled area. For example, Moctezuma Palace was built by Juan Toledo Moctezuma, Grandson of the Aztec princess, Tecuixpo Istlaxochitl (Isabel Moctezuma).
Another sight to be visited in this Roman -cum-Arab-cum-Christian city includes the octagonal Desmochada Tower. This tower would later serve as inspiration for the Golden Tower in Seville. There are aslo several fine museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Located inside the House of los Caballos; and the Museum of Fines Arts, within the Houseof El Mono, in Aldana street where, incidently, can also be found the only Mudejar house in Cacers. A visit may also be paid to the private museum , dedicated to the Arab world, known as “Yusuf al Borch” , and situated next to the Palace of los Golfines de Abajo.
Outside the walled area one may like to visit the Church of Santiago (St. James) which has a magnificent reredos by Berruguete.