Badajoz information

Introduction to the Province of Badajoz
One of the two provinces of Extremadura and bordered by Portugal to the west, Badajoz is the largest province in Spain, yet one of the least densely populated. It is remains a very unspoilt area and has, until recently, fallen beneath the radar of many tourists, simply serving as a gateway into Portugal. However Badajoz definitely merits a place on the traveller’s map for a get away from it all break, particularly in the spring when cherry blossom abounds.

Badajoz City
The friendly city of Badajoz, on the banks of the Guadiana river is the capital of the province. Due to its strategic location, Badajoz has had a varied history – it has been at times under the rule of the Portuguese and the French. This mixed history manifests itself today in the city’s architecture and cuisine.

There is a graceful bridge of 32 arches spanning the river Guadiana, the Puente de Palmas, which leads the visitor into the city via a 16th Century triumphal arch, the Puerta de Palmas. Worth visiting are the Alcazaba, the city’s original Moorish fortress, the 13th Century Cathedral de San Juan and the Plaza de Espana in the historic quarter.

The Badajoz Iberoamerican Museum of Contemporary Art houses a fine collection of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American Art and sits in an exquisite setting of gardens and lakes.

Around Badajoz City and Beyond
Although Badajoz is the capital city of the province, the city of Merida is actually the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura. Merida contains more Roman remains than any other Spanish city. Even those who are normally indifferent to such things will find something to interest them here. Merida was the tenth most important city of the Roman Empire and was the terminus for the Roman road, the Via de la Plata, which originated in Astorga. Merida is a delightful place to explore on foot. As a starting point, admire the sixty-arched Puente Romano, the bridge that spans the Guadiana river. Continue to the Teatro Romano, one of the best-preserved Roman theatres in the world and where a festival of the theatre takes place every summer. Next to the Teatro Romano is the Anfiteatro that could accommodate 15,000 people to watch gladiatorial combat. For an impressive feat of Roman engineering, visit the Aqueducto de los Milagros (the aqueduct of miracles). To cool off, you can swim in the Roman reservoir of Pantano de Prosperpina, 5km north of Merida.

The sleepy town of Zafra, with its beautiful 15th Century castle (now a Parador), is an interesting place for a stop.

Badajoz province is a walker’s paradise, criss-crossed as it is by a multitude of marked trails to suit hikers of all abilities. Being such an expansive area it offers a huge variety of terrains, eco-systems and landscapes.

Cornalvo Natural Park, 7km east of Merida, has 6 marked walking trails, from 1km to 15km in length, and contains not one but two mountain ranges, the Sierra del Moro and the Sierra Bermeja. Many species of fish, amphibians and birds can be found here, including the rare black stork.

Orellana Reservoir is another bird-watcher’s paradise and is a specially protected area for birds. Here you can see eagles, storks, cranes, kestrels and a whole multitude of water birds. Spring is a great time to visit this area.

The Gastronomy of Badajoz
The province of Badajoz is famed for its Iberian pigs, which in turn produce the highly prized hams of the same name, Jamon Iberico, and also of course Chorizo sausages. Pork is not the only meat however and lamb and goat also form the bases for many regional dishes here. Coliflor al Estilo Badajoz is a delicious fried, battered cauliflower dish typical of the area, flavoured with the paprika that is widely grown here.

The aniseed flavoured sweet pastries called Perrunillas are a great accompaniment to a coffee. And of course don’t forget the abundance of fresh cherries that are grown here.

Cheese lovers must try La Serena, made from Merino sheep’s milk. The vegetable rennet used in its manufacture comes uniquely from a local thistle plant and there is a hint of this in its taste. Be warned that it is expensive!

Badajoz is not without its wines and Montanchez and Tierra de Barros are two fine varieties to sample.


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