Almost every city has a distinctive feature, and the one of Cáceres is well in sight: a collection of medieval towers and houses with which few places can compete.
All this noble buildings were built after 1229, the year when the Christians took over the place after great efforts. But the history of Cáceres does not begin there, of course. The Romans had already settled here thirteen centuries before, building their roads and bridges and giving Latin names to all things.
Afterwards, things followed the usual order as it happened in most of the Spanish places: the Visigoths threw the Romans out, and after a few centuries the Arabs came to get comfortable. They dominated Cáceres until the year we were telling you about: 1229. Then, the city changed hands, and with that, its face started to change too. It was a place where the military orders had a lot of power, so palaces for the knights and defensive towers sprung up everywhere, and, contrary to what usually happens, they outnumbered the churches.
Jews, Arabs and Christians populated the streets of Cáceres in the late Middle Ages, and during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, most of the buildings that have earned this old town its World Heritage status were erected. The palaces such as the Golfines, the House of the Solís or the Palace of Carvajal are among the beauties that the primary ancestors of the time left in Cáceres soil.
All this Gothic and Renaissance buildings were then joined by the numerous towers which those armed men liked so much, and which have reached our days lopped because Isabel the Catholic ordered to cut their tops off as a punishment to the nobles of the city. And what had they done? Well, they supported Juana de Castile, alias la Beltraneja, in her aspirations to the throne. The nickname has an explanation and it’s because it was said that her father, King Enrique IV, was impotent and forced the queen to give him offspring with the help of his friend the Duque of Beltrán. And that’s where the Beltraneja came from.
Anyway, we are beating about the bush. We were saying that the high parts of many stately buildings were demolished in those times. In fact, there was only one tower, the one of las Cigueñas ( the Storks), which was safe from mutilation. But, lopped or not, the towers of Cáceres form a fantastic ensemble that gives personality to the capital of Extremadura. You shouldn’t miss the religious monuments such as the Cathedral of Santa María, or the Arab traces as surprising as the tank in the Palacio de las Veletas. And if you finish it off with a stroll through the Old Jewish Quarter, even better. There is a reason why it has been a World Heritage Site since 1986.