The departure of the first day was from Toledo to Zafra. The first stop would be after crossing the province of Cáceres, heading towards the road that leads to Guadalupe. It is in a place called Los Marmoles, where one day one of the most important cities of Roman Hispania, Augustobriga, was built. There, between the road and the Valdecañas reservoir, are the remains of a Roman temple of that city. It has indicators of how the temple was and that it belonged to that city. Many of its remains rest below the reservoir.
After lunch, I head for the A5 motorway to reach Mérida and from there to Cancho Roano, an excavation site for a temple long before the Romans, from the Tartessian era, ancient inhabitants of the peninsula, the which has an interpretation center. This temple is of great importance because it is one of the oldest well-preserved buildings on the peninsula. Currently, most of the excavations from this period are in the province of Badajoz, and in Huelva, since this people and culture was born in the city of Cádiz and extended northwards, including the south of Portugal, Badajoz, Huelva and some areas of Seville.
Then I would visit Quintana de la Serena, whose square is worth a visit, Zalamea de la Serena, with its ancient churches and Roman remains, and Azuaga, which has a street with a lot of history. , with mansions of the time and a couple of important churches, such as Nuestra Señora de la Consolación.
Quite late he would arrive in Zafra where he would spend the night.
Zafra is one of the most important and most populated cities in the province of Badajoz. Formerly it was the connection point of the market of the whole area. Here the ranchers and farmers took their vegetables and animals to trade. There were two large squares, the Plaza Grande and the Plaza Chica. This square is considered one of the best medieval squares in Spain and has been used to shoot many films.
The Plaza Chica de Zafra has been the center of commerce in Zafra since its inception. Place of markets since the 16th century, hence the origin of the curious «Vara de Medir», which carved on one of its columns presides over the Plaza Chica. In it, 5 marks or grimaces are distinguished that correspond to the different measures used at the time: span, fourth, foot, fathom and elbow. It is thought that the current location of the Measuring Rod is not the original one, since the back of the column is flat, which suggests that it may have been leaning on a wall. This rod is the one that is seen together with the column in the photograph.
The Plaza Chica is accessed from the Plaza Grande through what is known as “Arquillo del Pan”, so called because a bakery was located there. In this arch we can find a niche dedicated to the Virgen de la Esperancita, where there is a replica of the old polychrome wooden figure in a small Baroque altarpiece with the figures of Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Asís. The original image of the Virgen de la Esperancita is preserved in the Church of La Candelaria.
In addition, some nobles with the title of fair dukes dominated the entire area and the palace of these dukes is located there, today it is a national parador that can be seen in the first image. We also find important religious buildings such as the church of La Candelaria, where the remains of the Dukes of Feria rest, and the convent of Santa Clara, which has a museum whose visit illustrates very well the link between the church and this city in ancient times.
Later I would continue my trip to the south but after looking at the map I saw a town that could perhaps be the object of a visit. This town is Barcarrota, which has a very nice square and in which there is a castle inside which they built the town's bullring like some other town in this province that I would later visit. It also has some religious buildings.
Continuing my trip to the south, I will visit one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and the most important from medieval times, Jerez de los Caballeros. Jerez de los Caballeros has a rich heritage that testifies to monuments of different styles such as Mudejar, Gothic or Baroque. For all these reasons, it was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1966. Jerez is known as the city of five towers, for its set of baroque towers, built with brick, plaster and glazed clay.
This city was also the seat of the Knights Templar and this is attested to by some remains of its towers on the walls. From the top you can have a beautiful view of the entire town.
It has preserved the entire medieval wall from the 13th century and the beautiful towers in the sky stand out. Of the gates of the wall only two of the six that it had remain, one is shown in the image. It preserves pieces of the Templar castle that was built on top of a Muslim citadel of which there are still towers and small vestiges.
Just as other cities in Extremadura are the cradle of conquerors of the Americas such as Medellín or Trujillo, Jerez has Nuñez de Balboa as its conqueror. There is a house museum on it.
The churches decorated with tiles or colored bricks that give it a very modern look for that time and an unmistakable trace within all Spanish towns. The most characteristic one seen in the image is the Church of San Bartolome, from the 15th century. The tower is very similar to that of the Giralda in Seville, with a decoration of brick, plaster and colored ceramics. Other religious buildings are the churches of San Miguel Arcangel, Santa María de la Encarnación and Santa Catalina. The towers of both churches are Baroque from the 18th century. and the 15th and 16th century churches. Finally, it should be noted that it has five convents standing, such as the convent of San Agustín, the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Consolación, the convent of the Madre de Dios (today an institute), the convent of Aguasantas (special education school) and the convent of Gracia(today a four-star hotel), There are two others that have disappeared, such as the Trinity and Our Lady of Light.
Once the excursion is over, I will travel south and arrive at Fregenal de la Sierra, one of the most beautiful villages in Badajoz, with its bullring inside the town's fortress, where The main church of Santa María connects with this castle, which has a very valuable baroque altarpiece as well as several paintings. Park near the Fontanilla fountain, from the 16th century and with greater historical and aesthetic importance than can be seen in the image.
The castle-fortress of Fregenal was entrusted to the Order of the Temple in the 13th century, the date on which the first documented references to the building appear. The enclosure has seven towers, of which the Torre del Homenaje stands out, on which a bell tower with a clock was built in the 18th century. The Powder Tower, the second in order of importance, has a clock under the balconies of the bell tower of the church. The building is accessed through a portal with a pointed arch, built in ashlar masonry, and on it there is a shield attributed to the Templars and a machicolation. Inside the fortress is the Plaza de Toros, built in the final years of the 18th century, and the Mercado de Abastos, from the beginning of the 20th century, with the church of Santa María and the Parish House attached to it.
Other outstanding churches are that of San Ildefonso recently restored and I witnessed the explanation of these works by a guide from the town hall. Also the church of Santa Ana and the convent of San Francisco. It also has a street where we find several palaces with quite a neo-classical air of the nobles of that time. Such as the ancestral home of the Peche family, the palace of the Marchioness of Ferrera, the palace of the Counts of Torrepilares and the palace of the Marquises of Rioacabado. The original architecture of the ancestral home of the Peche Family belongs to the 18th century, although its decoration and the aesthetics of the patio belong to the first decades of the 20th century, the date on which the neo-Mudejar style (specifically the neo-Nasrid) it was fashionable. The double access entrance stands out from the main façade, with which the architect intends to create a curious optical effect. With the double entrance it is possible to transmit amplitude and greatness.
Continuing along the road towards Huelva and outside the province of Badajoz, I will stop at Almonaster la Real. This town also with the title of most beautiful town in Spain and Andalusia has a jewel. A completely preserved mosque.
The Almonaster Mosque is located at the top of the hill that crowns the Castle. This “ancient Moorish church”, a name that appears in a 1583 document preserved in the General Archive of Simancas, was erected during the reign of Abd al-Rahman III. Due to the remains reused in its construction, it is conceivable that, in Roman times, there was a monumental building that was later transformed into a Visigothic-Christian church, subsisting with a monastic character until the Muslim invasion. Numerous Roman columns and capitals from the 1st and 2nd centuries, as well as very interesting Visigoth vestiges from the 5th to 7th centuries, are silent witnesses of this reuse.
This town also has a very homogeneous architecture with white houses and cobbled streets in a similar way that makes you feel in another era. The church of San Martín stands out due to its tower, although what shines is the mosque from which you can see the entire region. Attached to the mosque is the town's bullring, very typical of the towns I visited.
In addition, the church of San Martín also stands out in the town, of a Gothic Mudejar style with clear influences from the south.
At night he would arrive at the Hotel La Niña in Palos de la Frontera.
In the morning I went to visit the center of Palos de la Frontera, where I would find the town hall and the church of San Jorge.
Later he would visit the monastery of La Rábida where Columbus would spend days before traveling to America. There he would recruit a good part of the crew, including many young sailors from Palos. Here you can learn everything about their travels and see artifacts they brought back, as well as a replica of each caravel. It also has a beautiful church with a chapel with frescoes fully preserved and many paintings of great value. It has a Mudejar coffered ceiling from the period.
Then it would pass by the monument to the Discoverers and arrive at the dock of the caravels where they are built in real size and you can go up and see some details.
After seeing this I would travel to see the towns in the area. I took the N442 road and went to Mazagon beach, one of the best in the province. The Parador de Huelva is located there, and the Doñana Natural Park is nearby.
Then I will head towards El Rocío, a town born from the construction of a temple in the name of the Virgen del Rocío who gives the town its name. This town has been steeped in all the Andalusian tradition, bullfighting, flamenco and religion. It is full of premises owned by societies called brotherhoods. During the April festivities, people from all over Andalusia make pilgrimages to this town to make offerings to the Virgin and to celebrate the festivities. The town is unpaved, completely filled with sand which gives it a touch of a western movie.
They rent horses and sell any typical Andalusian item. In the festivities of this pilgrimage, the Virgin is turned over by the crowd in the act known as jumping over the fence. The virgin is normally found in the main church of Almonte, which is the town where the people reside since this town really comes alive during the celebrations, however due to tourism throughout the year there are people and the sanctuary remains open to be visited .
Later I went to Almonte and visited the Church of the Asunción, which was precisely celebrating because the Virgen del Rocío was there. Also visit the city museum where I had a mixture of an explanation of Rocío and a review of bullfighting in the area, having a large number of bullfighter costumes.
Leaving the Andalusian paraphernalia, I would visit a medieval town with a lot of history. Niebla is a walled town where one of the last defenses by the Almohads was located at the time of the reconquest. Once the Alcazaba was conquered, it would be repaired and the interior walls demolished as the city grew. However, almost all of the wall is preserved and the ruins of the church of San Martín. The main church, Santa María, is in the old village mosque.
Lastly, I went to Moguer, where the Nazarene procession was being held the day I went. Despite being on alert for coronavirus, people were not afraid and took to the streets, crowding everything. Moguer is one of the most beautiful villages in Huelva, with a square with the church of the Lady of Granada, the house of the Pinzon brothers and the monastery of Santa Clara, one of the largest in Andalusia. At the end of the procession and seeing a bit of the town, he would return to Palos.
On the last day, visit Huelva, the capital, a city that is reputed to be the provincial capital with the least heritage in Spain. It has a cathedral, however the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy is more of a large church converted to a cathedral. Even so, visiting its streets, I saw that it did have places to see. Apart from the aforementioned cathedral, the church of San Pedro, the church of La Concepción and some other churches, and the main square, Plaza de Colón had some palaces visitable as the palace of Montes Claros that can be seen in the image.
Also the Casa de Colón, in the image, where the city museum is located and some historic building such as the theater, that street next to the main street where there were many shops had many restaurants and shops that gave life to the city.
Also at the top of the city is the Sanctuary of the Ribbon where you can enjoy all the views of the mouth of the Guadalquivir River and the city. Also walking towards there and throughout the west is the mount of the Cabezos, where the ancient Tartessian people that founded the city settled. It is a dispute between different associations, the town hall and a real estate company that wants to build in the area. They say that it could house quite a few ancient remains that could give greater knowledge of how the city arose and who its first inhabitants were. Once visited I would travel back to Toledo with views on my next trip.
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