It seems like each place that I visit has a Plaza Mayor and Cáceres was no different. The city of Cáceres is located in the Extremadura region of Spain, quite close to the Portuguese border, and was founded by the Romans in 25 BC (perhaps this would explain why there were Roman ruins in Mérida, a short bus ride away from the city). Interestingly, Cáceres is also famous for it’s multitude of storks’ nests. Having never seen a stork before, I was quite excited to see them and to see how large they were. After joking about wanting one, my friend simply said, “Mimi, you do realize that they’re as big as you, right?” They were absolutely magnificent though and the way they communicate with each other was fascinating (oh gosh, now I sound like one of those intense bird watcher, I swear I’m not. I’m just easily fascinated by everything: birds, food, photos, landscapes, you name it). In 1986, Cáceres was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO due to the city’s blend of Islamic, Roman, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles.
Anyway, after checking into our pretty swanky hotel, we went on a walking tour of Cáceres. We started off at the Plaza Mayor and then explored around a few main areas of the city.
Arco de la Estrella was built in the 18th century by Manuel de Larra Churriguera. After admiring the Arco de la Estrella, we wandered through the little cobblestoned paths, passing a few churches on our way.
We came upon the church of Santa Maria, where our tour guide talked about it for a little while.
Our last stop was the San Francisco Javier Church, a Baroque Jesuit church built in the 15th century.
Funnily enough, some storks seemed to have built their nests around the bell towers. Our tour guide promised that the tower was the highest spot in Cáceres, so we climbed a gorgeous spiral staircase and emerged in one of the bell towers.
While the climb left me huffing and puffing, the views were definitely worth it. We got to see the sunset over Cáceres and I wasn’t surprised to look out one of the windows to see a stork’s nest 🙂
After the tour, which got cut short because the museum our tour guide wanted to take us to was closed, we were given free time! So my friends and I wandered back toward the Plaza Mayor (the town square) and stopped by a small café for some coffee to freshen up. Then, since it was a tad cold, my room mate, Lea, and I headed back toward the hotel to relax a bit before dinner. We met up with some other friends and went to a small restaurant near the Plaza Mayor for a quick bite to eat. The tapas were absolutely delicious.
After our dinner, my friends and I did what any normal college student studying abroad would do. We went out to the bars. Despite the fact that Cáceres was a small little town, the night life was far from it. While you could stay at the cafes, order a bottle of vino and some tapas, they had some pretty fun bars that we spent some time at. Our first stop was Pirata bar (pirate bar), where my guy friends shared literally a keg of beer and me and my friends downed some sangria. There is no doubt that sangria is delicious in Spain. Afterwards, we went to another bar/discoteca called La Cantina, where we spent the rest of the night dancing or playing pool (billiards?). I hadn’t played pool since I was in middle school and even back then I was terrible, but it was still quite fun to try. Ahaha okay confession I only tried once, but it was still pretty fun. We ended up going to La Cantina for our second night in Cáceres, where I had a gin and tonic (which happens to be my drink of choice). While I’m not a huge fan of liquors, the gin and tonic has grown on me. We did end up getting Donor Kebab throughout the night, which was fortunately located right outside the bar. I think what I enjoyed the most about the night life in Cáceres was that our hotel was no more than a 5 min walk from the Plaza Mayor. There’s just something about living in the center of everything that makes exploring all the more fun.
While Cáceres may not be the town of choice to visit when considering Spain, it was, in my opinion an adorable little gem of a town with touristy sites and a fun night life. If you ever have the chance to check it out, even for a day, I highly recommend it.
Hugs and puppies!