From Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus in year 25 B. C, continuing through Almazor in year 977 and the current Phillip VI, many have been the kings and queens that have made their way in Extremadura. Conquests, love and affairs, leisure, health and also work were behind these regal voyages.
Twenty Centuries after the first group traveled, Extremadura saves and boasts of the memories of those royal journeys through the network of their trails.
The catalog of sovereign routes is a constantly growing repertoire. Discovering the places that were visited by the different monarchs, enjoying the same landscapes and eating what they tasted is a tempting proposal to a growing number of visitors, from which we offer you an interesting sample.
Monumental route of Emperor Octavian Augustus
This route belongs to the Circuit “Camina Extremadura” (Walk Extremadura) and in 2017 it will hold its seventh edition. Organized by the “Emérita Augusta Hiking Club”. The proposal has its differentiating character, which is stated in the objectives: It is an urban and monumental hiking route to enjoy 2000 years of history in Merida. It is a walk without any technical difficulty that crosses the banks of the two rivers that traverse the city of Merida, its enormous Roman legacy and the green zones of the city. The length of the route is close to 15 kilometers on a four hour round trip, at which point you will end up claiming “These Romans were crazy”.
Alonso XI of Castile, from Navezuelas to Guadalupe
During spring the footsteps of King Alonso XI of Castile are heard again near the valley of Alamonte. This is a tour organized by “Asociación de Senderismo Maragatos” (the Maragatos Hiking Association). It is a walk that goes through anticlines and synclinals, which is something that happens at the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark. The route is a little more than 16 kilometers long between Navezuelas and Guadalupe, and it is considered of medium – high difficulty, because of the ascending and descending slopes. The program does not include hunting of bears, an activity that was fancied by the Monarch. However, we will enjoy a spectacular landscape, loaded with very high geological value, as certified by UNESCO in November 2015. The route is included in the annual Calendar of the “Circuito Camina Extremadura” (Walk Extremadura Circuit).
Route of Isabel I “The catholic queen”, from Cañamero to Guadalupe
Isabel first placed her royal foot in Extremadura at the age of 13, in the year 1463. Since that first visit there were numerous and varied places in Extremadura that received such a magnificent visit. Of all the places in the region Guadalupe had a special meaning for the Queen. It is said that in Guadalupe she met Christopher Columbus before his first voyage to discover the Americas.
On this route we continue to enjoy, mostly during the end of every summer, the geological greatness of “Las Villuercas”, to walk the same paths followed by Queen Isabel in the spring of 1477, when she travelled to Trujillo from Guadalupe trough Cañamero, Logrosán, Zorita and Herguijuela. The way covers 15 linear kilometers and runs along one of the most important cave paintings housed by the Villuerca-Ibores-Jara Geopark. In 2008 the “Álvarez” or “La Chiquita” cave was opened to the public and allows visitors a close look at the prehistoric schematic art.
The route of the spanish emperor from Jarandilla to the Monastery of Yuste
This is a special treat for walkers who are passionate about history. It is a route that in 2017 will come of age and has been an unavoidable date for visitors from all places. It represent the last ten kilometers that Charles V Emperor of Spain and Holly Roman Emperor, travelled through “la Vera” before reaching the monastery of “Yuste”, the place of his final retirement. The event is held every year on the same date chosen by the Monarch in 1556, during the cold month of February.
The excursion starts in Jaradilla de la Vera, passes through Aldeanueva de la Vera and Guacos de Yuste. Along the way you can admire the majesty of the “Sierra de Gredos” through a mid mountain landscape. The route can be made on foot or on horseback on two separate and consecutive dates. Both follow the same path.
Different from the Imperial crossing that requires a top physical condition, this path is suitable for the whole family. Along the way are theatrical performances and setting of stages based on the sixteenth century that delight the younger hikers.
At certain specific points along the route, hikers and riders can obtain a Credential or Passport that certifies they completed the Way of the Emperor. They are also invited to taste traditional regional food. The Council of Europe recognized in 2015 the routes of Emperor Charles V as a European Cultural Itinerary.
The crossing of Charles V, from Tornavacas to Jarandilla
The following will be the 32nd edition of this route of 25 Kilometers through mountain paths joining two beautiful passes of “las Yeguas”: “La Vera” and “El Jerte”. Autochthonous forest dotted with labor lands and fruit orchards envelop the road with surprising and mutable colors from Tornavacas to Jarandilla. The “Grupo Placentino de Montaña” (Plasencia Mountain Group) is the organizer of this journey that can be done walking or running, in the month of November. The date coincides with the arrival of Charles V to “Jarandilla de la Vera” in 1556. The walking tour has an estimated duration of eight and a half hours.
The route of King Alphonse XIII from Casares de las Hurdes to Las Mestas
At lasts a destination that is one of the wonders of Spanish nature, with a touristic offer that has managed to extract with out squeezing the juice of its peculiarity. Following the chronicles of the trip that recorded the visit of King Alphonse XIII to the Hurdes in 1922, the Commonwealth of Municipalities has designed this hiking route that year after year increases with fans. That month of June, the Monarch traveled 150 Kilometers on horseback through paths of slate and Jurdana stone. This proposal covers the last 22 Kilometers from “Casares de las Hurdes” to “las Mestas”, between terraces stolen from the mountains planted with Olive trees and Pine groves, valleys and summits where spectacular horizons can be viewed. This trail will take seven and a half hours to complete; participants will also go through “Riomalo de Arriba”, “Ladrillar” and “Cabezo”.
Places to visit and live like kings
Where there is a road there is always a destination and these trips lead us to places that amaze us with their beauty. Please remember that we are talking about regal destinations, such as the “Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe” or the “Monastery of Yuste”, “Las Hurdes” or the Geopark of “Las Villuercas”. We ha followed in the footsteps of Octavian Augustus, King Alfonso XI, Isabel I The Catholic Queen, Emperor Charles V and King Alphonse XIII.
Fernando I The Catholic King at Madrigalejo and Juana “La Beltraneja” in Plasencia
Other monarchs will lead us, for example, to “Madrigalejo”, where Fernando I The Catholic King died and with this event Spain was born under one ruler. This town celebrated in 2016 the death of the widower of Isabel I, with numerous activities. Juana la Beltraneja invites us to travel to Plasencia were we can visit the place where she married and plotted to overthrow her cousin Isabel I The Catholic Queen and intended to wear the crown of Castile. And with the Infanta Isabel, the niece of the Beltraneja, we may visit “Valencia de Alcántara”. There, in August, they will stage the royal wedding that united the destinies of Castile, Aragon and Portugal in 1497. Thanks to this wedding, the daughter of the Catholic King married Manuel I of Portugal, also called “The Fortunate”.
The roads are still there and now, we make history.
Original article by Sara Fontán
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in December, 2016