Badajoz: the must-see that you weren't expecting
From Badajoz they even take advantage of the andares. In this province, with its deep Roman legacy, the roads intermingle with the endless expanses of fields dedicated to cork oak and holm oak trees.
Do you like ham? Large herds of Iberian pigs are bred in Badajoz and roam freely from one dehesa to the next. Pork products take pride of place.
This is what happens in the region of Llerena, where the best internationally recognised hams are produced. Moreover, here the past lies beneath vestiges such as its Roman theatre, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Ara, which is known as "the Sistine Chapel of Extremadura", and the impressive Jayona mine. Do you dare to enter? You can do this on guided tours that take you through three of its eleven levels.
Do you want to travel back in time from the present? There is a time machine called Emérita Augusta that you can go to... Mérida is two cities at once: one modern, where you can enjoy excellent gastronomy and a quiet life; the other, on which the first was built and which was the capital of Lusitania.
Both coexist proudly and you can take this historic leap into the Roman Empire by visiting the circus, the aqueduct of the Miracles, the amphitheatre, the temple of Diana, the arch of Trajan, the house of the Mithraeum... and the spectacular theatre, where the fantastic Mérida Classical Theatre Festival is held every summer. Essential.
Do you want to top this trip off in style? Head for Badajoz, a city that condenses great landmarks of history into intricate and beautiful streets.
Do you see that? It is the imposing and beautiful Moorish Alcazaba. Within its walls are intermingled constructions such as the Palace of the Counts of Roca, from the Medieval period, with the odd surprise or two. Did you know that Badajoz has its own Torre del Oro? This is the Torre de Espantaperros (Scarecrow Tower), which watches over the city.
Time to rest. You will do it to your heart's content at the Sercotel Gran Hotel Zurbarán, which overlooks the Guadiana and is located in front of the green Castelar Park. It is also very close to two of the city's icons, the curious hermitage of La Soledad, which houses the patron saint of Badajoz, and the Giraldilla, the Extremaduran replica of the Giralda in Seville. You can’t beat it! We doubt it.
How beautiful Zafra is, how flirtatious, how southern. Its Plaza Grande is the epicentre of the action, although the Plaza Chica is not far behind either. Both are surrounded by narrow streets inherited from their Jewish, medieval and Roman past. An absolute gem.
You will immediately fall in love with the panoramic view as you approach Jerez de los Caballeros. What if we tell you that you have to walk it at night? It is one of the towns in Extremadura with Starlight Foundation certification, which means that light pollution is so low that stargazing is a guaranteed spectacle.
Lastly, do us a favour: travel through La Siberia, pure nature in this Biosphere Reserve that hides charming little villages among its forests, its fortresses, the Guadiana river and its five reservoirs. This is the case of Puebla de Alcocer, Risco and Herrera del Duque.
Traditional local dishes from Badajoz
Grab a pencil and paper, foodie, and let's get to work on the pantagruelic menu of Badajoz. The gastronomic idyll begins with the veal salmorejo. You heard it! It continues with roast morcón, a dish based on lean pork with a garlic and paprika marinade; and ends with the classic pastorejo in adobo, grilled pork cheek. To your health!