I came to Spain with the mindset of wanting to visit all the “big” and famous cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville amongst others. Getting placed in a small city liked Badajoz proved to be an absolute blessing to change my stubborn mindset because there are so many places which much to offer that are not relatively known; and the truth is, quite literally every town in Spain (and possibly all of Europe) has at least one famous tower and some sort of old castle/fortress!
With my family, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to places in Extremadura (my province) like Merida, Trujillo, Caceres, Zafra, and La Albuera to name a few. Outside Extremadura, we’ve visited Estremoz and Elvas in Portugal and we’ve also been to Madrid, Aranguez, and El Molar in the community of Madrid. I’m really glad to have been placed in Extremadura. One of the most curious things about this province is that it is the only province not to be connected to the rest of Spain by the AVE (the high-velocity train of Spain that is famous for connecting Madrid and Barcelona within approximately two hours). Almost all of the travel blogs online that detail the wonders of Spain skip this province, owing to its general image of agriculture and kilometers on end of farms. I find, however, that this province has so much to offer apart from its image as the agricultural hotspot of Spain.
One of my first posts was about my day trip visit to Mérida my first weekend in Spain with my family. Mérida was the capital of the Roman Empire in the Iberian peninsula and boasts a rich architectural heritage. One of my favorite places in Extremadura, Mérida was truly one of my most favorite trips.
The pictures above feature Cáceres.
Cáceres is a city with more Medieval architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cáceres boasts an old Medieval city within its modern city limits as well as a nature reserve sit known as Los Barruecos. Los Barruecos features granite formations and ponds with crystal clear waters. Both Los Barruecos and the Medieval city of Cáceres were Game of Thrones shooting locations. We day-tripped to Caceres with another family and even had our own little picnic in Los Barruecos.
The pictures above feature Aranguez.
This place is technically not in Extremadura, but I had to write about it. Aranguez is a small town within the Autonomous Community of Madrid and is about a 45-minute drive from the city of Madrid. During Semana Santa, I was able to travel with my family to Madrid (which is where my host mom is from), and we were able to visit a beautiful palace in Aranguez. This palace was true vacation home of the royal family, and boasts a beautiful garden as well.
The pictures above feature Estremoz.
Estremoz is a small district of Portugal about an hour drive away from Badajoz. It hosts a beautiful flea market every Saturday morning, and Roberto, Carmen, and I decided to take a day trip to visit this flea market. While in the city, we wandered around quite a bit and found our way to the castle of the city. The flea market had a wide selection of antiques, old children’s books, cheeses, and much more.
The pictures above feature Trujillo.
One of the coolest things about Extremadura is that many of the famous Spanish explorers during the ‘Discovery of America’ period hailed from this province. Hernan Cortes was from a small town in the province of Badajoz (the province of Badajoz is one of two provinces in the autonomous community of Extremadura). Francisco Pizarro was from Trujillo, another town in Extremadura. We were able to visit Trujillo where the town square boasts a large Pizarro statue, and the house of Pizarro itself is a museum.
Apart from these notable places, I’ve been able to visit La Albuera — a small town in the province of Badajoz famous for a battle in the 1800s — and more such as Zafra, my host dad’s hometown. It’s been such a blessing to travel locally in my province because there are so many incredibly beautiful places with loads to offer. What’s more, these places are filled with locals who are so proud to showcase the history to any foreigner, since they receive relatively few tourists compared to the bigger hubs like Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. I am so grateful to my host family for lovingly showing me all these places within my short time span here :)
It looks like you're enjoying a variety of towns in Spain. Are there kings and queens in Spain? I've heard there are fortresses, but are there castles?