WACRA® 99 in Cáceres (Extremadura), Spain
The country's splendid beauty and an absolutely privileged geographic and strategic setting, has made Spain since antiquity a crossroads, a point of encounter between east and west. The diverse peoples, races and civilizations that have come here and found it an irresistible place to settle have left behind a unique, original culture that has proven to be an admirable experiment in synthesis. Spain, which has been Iberian, Celtic, Greek, Phoenician, Jewish, Roman, Gothic, Moorish and finally Christian, so often conquered and later so often the conqueror. It has managed to integrate all its disparate heritages into a modern, vibrant country whose inhabitants, proud of their age and their ancient land, have decidedly taken on the challenge of the future.
Spain is a fascinating country to visit. Widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine.
Bullfights you will find indeed throughout the country, the most popular event perhaps being the "Running of Bulls" during the Sanfermines in Pamplona. But bullfights are part and parcel of any Fiesta. Flamenco, on the other hand, is the musical tradition in the country's south, in particular in Andalucia. That is where you have to go to see and listen to first rate dancing and guitar playing.But, Spain has much more to offer. It is - as has been for thousands of years - one of the cultural centers of Europe. It has beautiful cities and towns, offering old monuments as well as futuristic architecture. Its various regions are all different one to each other, geographically, climatically and even in personality. In fact, it is not rare to find references to the "different Spain's", due to the climatic, natural and culture diversity of its regions. In general, one can distinguish between Northern Spain - humid and green; Inland Spain - sparsely populated and infinitely flat; Mediterranean Spain - fertile and luminous; Southern Spain - the most famous, hot and dry and as bight as the white wash of its homes.
The pulsing energy of Spain is quite unique. The people here are a joyful lot, famous for their ability to defy the need for sleep. Life here is lived in the crowed streets and noisy cafés, where endless socializing lasts long into the night. The every day sights and sounds on the street are vibrant. Large towns generally have an old quarter of pedestrian streets where shops have retained their charm and their old-fashioned fronts. This is where whole families go out for a stroll, where one can do one's shopping or buy a lottery ticket from one of the many ticket sellers. The great street event is the evening paseo. As the sun begins to set everyone meets in the main street to join the streams of people walking slowly up and down; one walks (pasear) to enjoy the last light and the cool of the evening. Groups of girls and boys saunter along the street, laughing and chatting, while the older generation looks on from pavement cafés.
The public aspect of Spain's capital city, Madrid, makes it especially easy for visitors to get involved, and its allure is hard to resist. Travelers can also take in the city's golden triangle of arts, museums with unsurpassed collections of work by some of the world's most famous artists, and the narrow streets of medieval Madrid, which reveal the city's beginnings as an Arab fortress.
This is one of the most beautiful, and perhaps least known, regions of Interior Spain. It's beautiful cities, first Roman and Moorish, then medieval and aristocratic, gave birth to many of the conquistadors. This community is constituted of two provinces, Caceres and Badajoz, its capital being Merida, certainly worth a visit thanks to its fantastic Roman ruins. Romans put Extremadura on the stage of history, and Merida was one of the most important cities in the whole Roman Empire. Later on, the region was for a long period of time the border between Moorish and Christian Spain. After the reconquista it arrived to new splendor with the discovery of America, when it was the cradle of several famous conquerors.
Extremadura's landscapes are characterized by the mountain ranges Cordillera Central, Montes de Toledo and Sierra Morena, the plains and fertile valleys of the rivers Tajo and Guadiana, and the plain lands of Low Extremadura. Its climate is continental, with warm summers and temperatures well over 30 º C, and quite cold winters.
Extremadura has several natural parks and preserves, specially the valleys of its two chief rivers are important ecological reserves.
The region has yet not been discovered by mass tourism, but it has plenty to offer if you are looking for something off the beaten track: it's original popular customs and traditions, typical dresses, great artisany of ceramics, metal works (those of Guadalupe are of high reputation) and embroideries, and outstanding gastronomy: trout, game, sausages, cheeses, as well as excellent wines.
The old town of Cáceres, a city of Extremadura, lies on a hill and is characterized by its constant evolution in history from Roman times until the present day. Within its medieval walls, Cáceres encloses a group of Gothic and Renaissance seigniorial mansions, which in their identity and historic atmosphere, have no equal in all of Spain. Once inside the walls flanked by towers, now heavily restored, you are in a quarter rapt in dreams of past glories. No ostentation, no decorative flourishes demean the appearance of these residences of the noblemen of the 15th and 16th century, for the mansions were built in the semblance of their owners. A walk through the old walled town takes visitors back to the Middle Ages.
Toledo stands out dramatically against the often luminously blue Castillian sky: a golden city rising from a granite eminence, encircled by a steep ravine filled by the green waters of the Tajo (Tagus). It is as spectacular as it is rich in history, buildings, and art. Every corner has a tale to be told, every aspect reflects a brilliant period of Spanish history when the cultures of east and west flourished and fused: one is constantly aware of this imprint of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures which productively co-existed during the Middle Ages. Within its walls, the city shelters beautiful sights amidst old winding alleys which provide a splendid setting for the Corpus Christi procession, held on the first Sunday following Corpus Christi.
Toledo is without doubt one of the densest monumental cities in the world. Nearly all the different stages of Spanish art are represented in Toledo, which has Moorish-Mudejar-Jewish buildings, such as the Transito and Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogues - gothic structures, such as the splendid Cathedral and Renaissance buildings. In the 16th century the city became home to El Greco, and Toledo has many of his paintings. Among its many museums, of special note is the one located in the old Santa Cruz Hospital.
With its unique situation, its picturesque townscape and its magnificent old buildings, Toledo, chief town of its province and the see of an archbishop, the Primate of Spain, is one of the great tourist cities of Spain - an essential goal for every visitor interested in art and history. Toledo is also renowned for its sword blades and its gold and silver inlay work - damascene ware (black steel inlaid with gold, silver and copper thread) a craft tradition brought in by the Moors. Its culinary specialties, including braised partridge and marzipan, are also quite renowned. Michelin Tourist Guide, Baedeker Travel Guide, Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.