Cáceres is the capital of Cáceres province, in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain. The medieval walled city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2014 its population was around 96,000. The municipio has a land area of 1,750.33 km2, the largest geographically in Spain. . It is also on the Via de la Plata (the Silver Route) path of the Camino de Santiago. There have been settlements near Cáceres since prehistoric times. Evidence of this can be found in the caves of Maltravieso and El Conejar. The city was founded by the Romans in 25 BC.
The Old Town (Parte Antigua) still has its ancient walls; this part of town is also well known for its multitude of storks’ nests. The walls contain a medieval town setting with no outward signs of modernity, which is why many television shows and films have been shot there. The Universidad de Extremadura, and two astronomical observatories are situated in Cáceres. The city is also a seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Coria-Cáceres.
Cáceres was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1986 because of the city’s blend of Roman, Moorish, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. Thirty towers from the Islamic period still stand in Cáceres, of which the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.
The origins of Cáceres were in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the paintings in the Cuevas de Maltravieso (Maltravieso Caves). The caves contain hundreds of paintings including the worlds oldest known cave painting which is a red hand stencil older than 67,000 years. This is 20,000 years before the arrival of homo sapiens to Europe and therefore must have been made by Neanderthals. Visitors can see remains from medieval times, the Roman occupation, Moorish occupation and the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Cáceres has four main areas to be explored: the historical quarter, the Jewish quarter, the modern centre, and the outskirts.
The first evidence of humans living in Cáceres is from the Late Paleolithic era, around 25,000 BC. Cáceres as a city was founded as Castra Caecilia by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius and started to gain importance as a strategic city under Roman occupation, and remains found in the city suggest that it was a thriving center as early as 25 BC. Some remains of the first city walls built by the Romans in the 3rd and 4th centuries still exist, including one gateway, the Arco del Cristo.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city was occupied by the Visigoths, and entered a period of decline until the Arabs conquered Cáceres in the 8th century. The city spent the next few centuries mostly under Arab rule, although power alternated several times between Moors and Christians. During this time, the Arabs rebuilt the city, including a wall, palaces, and various towers, including the Torre de Bujaco. Cáceres was reconquered by the Christians in the 13th century (1229). During this period the city had an important Jewish quarter: in the 15th century when the total population was 2,000, nearly 140 Jewish families lived in Cáceres. The Jewish population was expelled by Queen Isabella and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1492, but many remains of the Jewish presence of the period can still be seen today in the Barrio San Antonio.
Cáceres flourished during the Reconquista and the Discovery of the Americas, as influential Spanish families and nobles built homes and small palaces there, and many members of families from Extremadura participated in voyages to the Americas where they made their fortunes. In the 19th century, Cáceres became the capital of the province, marking a period of growth which was halted by the Spanish Civil War. Today, the headquarters of the university as well as several regional government departments are to be found in Cáceres.
The “Monumental City of Cáceres” was declared by the Council of Europe as the Third Monumental Complex of Europe in 1968 and World Heritage by Unesco in 1986. Cáceres also has other awards: Pomme d ‘Or to “Tourism Merit”, awarded by the International Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers in 1996; Les Etoiles d’Or du Jumelage, awarded by the European Commission in 1999; The Archival prize awarded to him by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Centers in 2004 and the Citizens 2008 Award granted by the Association of Radio and Digital Television Entities, with the collaboration of the Citizen Audiovisual Council for the support that the citizenship provided to The candidacy for the European Capital of Culture of 2016. Cáceres is also a member of the Roads Networks of Sefarad, of the Vía de la Plata, being chosen by the Autonomous Community as Cultural Capital of Extremadura Enclave 92, and together with the solidarity effort of The administrations, private companies, official entities and private citizens, aspired between 2003 and 2010 to be European Capital of Culture in the year 2016.