The aspect of Badajoz is that of a warrior city, and getting to know its history you will understand why. You’ll see …
In Ancient History, the Romans were already here fighting with Hannibal first, and with the Lusitanians after. Unfortunately, those warlike confrontations would be frequently repeated in this area during the following two millennia, and they are the reason why you are going to see so many fortifications and defensive buildings.
The foundation of the city is usually attributed to Ibn Marwan, a ninth-century character who navigated between Islam and Christianity depending on which way the wind blew. But the truth is that Badajoz used an old Visigoth settlement to prosper and become important.
The following four hundred years, under Islamic domination, left the largest citadel of the ones remaining in Europe, with its fortified walls, and its spectacular defensive towers. And you can imagine they didn’t build all of this for the children of the city to play. And, there was still to come the Christian Reconquest, in the thirteenth century, and the siege from the king of Portugal in the following century.
Between disputes and battles caused by the location of the city, close to the Portuguese border, they reached the sixteenth century. Badajoz was able to take a break and was filled with artists, scholars, and humanists who discussed paintings and philosophy, even knowing that the situation could not last long.
And it didn’t last, of course. Within a few decades the Portuguese Restoration War would arrive, and the population would suffer again, and the thing is that around the corner there was another one coming; this time the one of the Spanish Succession.
The eighteenth century started this way for the Badajoz people, sick and tired of weapons, of bombs, of Castile and of Portugal. The Citadel had become obsolete for the new military devices, so the defences had to be renewed, and the result was a substantial fortified enclosure full of bastions, pits, galleries and towers.
It will take you a bit of time to walk through all what is left of that work, but it is well worth it because it is part of the city’s character. In Badajoz, even the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista has ended up looking like a fortress.
Do you think this is not enough wars for a population? Well, wait we continue … The Napoleonic Wars also left their brutal mark here, and little more than a century later the Civil War came, with several thousand executed by the perpetrators of the coup who occupied the city after strong resistance.
Today, at last, you can walk peacefully through this landscape dotted with war works, and compare these times with those that others had to live. Surely you will find many reasons to be very happy! So, do not forget to visit the Plaza Alta, the Torre de la Atalaya, also called espantaperros, the Giralda of Badajoz and the Puerta de Palmas.