Its forts, palaces and churches, narrow streets in the heart of town and historical walls underline the charm of Plasencia as an important medieval city. But what makes us revive its glorious past is more related to the traditions that are kept alive. One example is the weekly market held on Tuesdays, which has been organized ever since the foundation of the city, more than 800 years ago. This event has a special celebration on the first Tuesday of the month of August and is called “Martes Mayor” (Greatest Tuesday).
Together with the Plasencia International Folk Festival, this special market constitutes the biggest summer party for the city. Plasencia is the home of more than 40000 people, one of the most important cities in the north of Extremadura, an autonomous region in Spain, which is west of Madrid and bordering with neighbor country Portugal. Plasencia is the benchmark city for many others in this region and is also, the point from which many tourists discover the north of Extremadura.
Valley of River Jerte
The “Valle del Jerte” is a narrow stretch, of deep terrain created by the course of river Jerte, which is known worldwide for growing the best cherries in the world. Also, because for about ten days a year it is covered with white, which is caused by cherry blooms from more than a million and half cherry trees that are planted on this land.
This region offers visitors multiple outdoor activities, rich local cuisine and numerous trails. In January the villages of “Piornal” with the celebration of “Jarramplas” serves as a collective catharsis and party for all the neighboring residents. At the end of spring the cherry harvest provides new life to the valley with the bustle of harvesters and traders. During the summer the preferred meeting points are all the natural ponds and swimming pools among them is one of the best in Spain, the “Garganta de los Infiernos” (Gorge of Hell), that together with Monfragüe, constitutes the first place among the most photographed landscapes in the country.
Monfragüe and the riverbanks of the Tagus
The highlight of this area is the National Park of Monfragüe, which is a must for birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiast. This is a unique place for family outings and experienced hikers. Monfragüe is famous for the “Berrea” that can be enjoyed during the beginning of October. Also, attended by many international visitors is “IOF” (Extremadura Bird -watching Fair). Monfragüe combines beautiful water scenery and magnificent mountain landscapes; an example is the “Salto de Gitano” (Gipsy Waterfall) and views from the castle. Also, very interesting is the Castle of Mirabel, close to “Serradilla”. This place is so particular that it has its own language and they venerate a very ancient image of Christ. In addition, “Ribera del Tajo” is the home of the smallest convent in the world, the “Palancar”. Also, in this region some places are as magical as Villa del Arco.
An important historical legacy surrounds the county of “la Vera”. Only a few kilometers from Cuacos, visitors will find the monastery of Yuste, which served as the last living quarters of Emperor Charles V, who choose la Vera to retire. Thus, brought to this county the influence of all kinds of soldiers and dignitaries who left profound roots. The particular architecture of the area adds beauty to a region that is rich with very green vegetation and water. On the gastronomical side La Vera is famous for its red pepper (Spanish Paprika) that adds flavor and color to the dishes from all of Spain and the world. Traditions and folklore is also varied and rich in this region, just to mention a few: the legend of the “Serrana de la Vera” (Mountain-girl from la Vera), the Dance of the Italian Maidens and other festivities at different villages, and greetings to the fire with the “Escobazos” at “Jarandilla”.
Coria and the Alagon river
In the region of the Alagon visitors will find towns like “Montehermoso”, famous for their typical hats and also, “Pozuelo” with its castle on top of the mountain.
The extensive areas of pastureland in this region have created a prosperous livestock industry. Acehuche is known for its cheeses and Galisteo for its beautiful wall. Visitors will delight in Coria, which has been in existence since Roman times. It also has a cathedral where an important relic is kept, the tablecloth of the last supper of Jesus. In addition, every year, hundreds of people cross the river in canoes participating in the Descent of River Alagon or are enchanted with the music of the International Guitar Festival of Coria.
Cáparra and the Ambroz Valley
On each side of the “Via de la Plata” are unique places such as Caparra and its tetra pylon arc, which is the only one in Spain. Also, unique is the town without residents, at Granadilla. On the other side of the road, at the foot of the sierra, is Hervas that displays its Jewish quarter and its “Conversos”.
While Baños de Montemayor has been a pilgrimage site since the times of the Romans for its soothing waters and continues to heal many visitors even today. These are places to visit in any season of the year, but particularly during the summer, because it invites visitors to part take in historical experiences and enjoy their natural swimming pools.
Sierra de Gata
Few counties gather in just about two dozen communities’ five historical sites and a local speech that is still alive. In addition, it offers unique moments like the possibility to watch the cranes at the Bordollon reservoir, the festivity of wine at Robledillo de Gata, the cross border international meeting between Eljas and Foios to roast chestnuts, and the ancient traditions of Pino Marro. During the summer it offers crystal clear waters and great bathing facilities, but also countless hiking trails and magnificent landscapes to discover from the castle of Trevejo or from the “Almenara de Gata”.
This is a most unique region for the intricacy of its geography. Las Hurdes composed of more than 40 towns or localities between the mountains. Their ancient culture is evidenced by the richness of its traditions, such as La Ermana, the “Robu de la albehaca”, or the hurdano Carnivals. These traditional festivities are always livened by drummers. Each year a group of hikers follow the footsteps of king Alphonse XIII, who visited the region. Tourist should not leave this region without visiting the meander of the Melero. During the summer Las Hurdes offers natural swimming pools for all tastes from huge locations such as the Casar de Palomero or Pinofranqueado to small intimate places like la Olla at Mestas.
This region, starting with “Navalmoral de la Mata”, is like a gateway from Madrid to Extremadura with the impressive presence of the “Sierra de Gredos”. It features interesting events, such as the Carnival at Navalmoral de la Mata, which has been declared a Festival of Regional Touristic Interest and gathers in its streets thousands of visitors. A few kilometers away, toward the Geopark of Villuercas, the immense marbles of Augustobriga, reminds us of the Roman past. “Campo Arañuelo” has an Orchydarium at Almaraz, where there is a local orchid species, the “Almaracensis”.
planVE, la guía de ocio de Extremadura
Original article by Marian Castillo
Translated by Susana Windt
Plasencia y las comarcas del norte, destino común
Published in august, 2016