Updated: Oct 2
Sun 1st Oct., Cáceres
Today was initially planned to be a relatively gentle stroll to the mid-sized town of Casar de Cáceres, 11 klms to the north of here. Instead we stayed an extra night in Cáceres, which has proved to be a real bonus. Cáceres is a large city (pop. Around 100,000), and the only reason we hadn’t previously planned an extra stopover/explore/rest day is that we had had one of those only three days earlier in Mérida. But I'm glad that we did so, as hopefully a few of the photos which follow later will show.
The other reason for the change of schedule is due to tomorrow’s previously planned 33 klm day walk from Casar de Cáceres to Canaveral. We're not just skiving a 33 klm walk per se, but we are being pragmatic in the circumstances. We always knew that that walk had no towns or formal rest places in between, which meant that we'd need to carry food and water for the day, and were quite prepared to do so. But what we didn't (couldn’t) factor in is the unreasonable heat. Forecast 36 degrees tomorrow, 2nd October. It's meant to be cooling down by now. So 33 klms in 36 degrees means that we'd need to set out carry some 4 litres of water each – that is, between us 8 kgs of extra weight to start the day with. So, no, pragmatism won hands down over any purism. No point in being purist and dying in the process (apparently someone did last year), not that we were/are worried about that, but just being sensible. (I grappled the the notion of "purity" - by another name - way back in 2015. You can read about that here.) So tomorrow is now a bus trip to Cańaveral, and we'll pick up the walking again on Tuesday.
Which brings us back to today and Cáceres.
Cáceres is a photographers paradise. Since I’d made the decision to jettison the big camera a few days back, I’m now relying solely on the phone. Not quite as good, but you’ll get a sense anyway.
To start, here's a very brief history of the city taken from one of the tourist sites we visited:
In the Maltravieso Cave, today within the urban area, the remains of the first human settlements in Cáce capital have been found. His paintings are dated to more than 66,000 years old.
The Romans founded the colony "Norba Caesarina" in the 1st century, taking advantage of the presence of a water current, the Ribera del Ma, as support for the Roman road of the Vía de la Plata, which was the backbone of the peninsular.
The next important milestone in Cáceres is the arrival of the Almohads on the basis of the Roman wall, they reinforced it by providing it with defense towers, calling this town "Hinz Qazris", and building a fortress, the most important remains of which is the cistern.
In the year 1229, the King of León reconquered the city, and between the then and the 16th centuries the city within the walls was built, formed by strong houses inside the wall. In the 15th century, most of the civil and religious buildings that we see today were built, reformed in the 16th century by the influence of Renaissance ideas, converting the strong houses into palatial houses.
More specifically, a few key dates are:
1172 The Almohads consolidate their positions in the Iberian Peninsula by unifying all the territories of peninsular Islam under their command
1174 Led by Abu Yusuf Ya'cub, the Almohads conquer Cáceres by defeating the Fratres
1212 The defeat at Las Navas de Tolosa marks the beginning of Almohad decline in Muslim Spain
1229 After several years of siege, Alfonso IX recovers Cáceres on April 23, 1229
I'll double check some of the above when I get home, but for now this will suffice as a bit of a snapshot of this city.
Following now a few photos with some commentary:
Above few: in, from, around and nearby to the Torre de Bujaco and the Western (I think) old city walls.
Above: from and of the Torre de los Pozos
Above: Arco del Cristo, what I believe to be the remaining original entrance to the old city from 1st century Roman times (obviously renovated over the years).
The majestic Iglesia de San Francisco Javier
One of the absolute highlights was a visit to the 12th century Casa Museo Yusaf al Burch. See their website here. This is a genuine, preserved house of a wealthy Muslim family of the time, and was fascinating. I love the art and symmetry of this period.
As a bonus, this house, and indeed the wider town, will serve as further inspiration for my novel currently in draft.
No trip is ever complete without a visit to La Caterdral and a climb up the bell tower.
I could go on and on, but I won't.
Here's some trivia in closing. Over the last 15 days of this blog, the average number of views is around 180/day. The max was 499, and the number has trended down to around 120/day in the last week or so. I have no idea who most of you are, but I'm pleased that a goodly number of folk seem to be following along our little journey, and I hope that you derive as much pleasure from reading as I do writing ...