Section 22 - Extremadura

Cáceres - Mérida - 70Km

On our EuroVelo 1 Route over some 70 kilometres we gradually leave behind the Montánchez–Tamuja district. We have been pedalling for some 10 km and we cross the village of Valdesalor which is located alongside a wetland of the same name. It is a Special Bird Protection Area (Zona de Especial Protección para Aves, ZEPA) in common with the Aldea del Cano Reservoir a little further on. On winter nights both lagoons are large roosting sites for cranes, which make a fine sight for bird lovers. On this section several constructions seem to watch over our route from low hills such as the Castle of Arguijuelas de Arriba, the Castle of Arguijuelas de Abajo, and the Castle of Garabato; we can find remains of Roman villas and even anthropomorphic tombs.

We come to the village of Casas de Don Antonio where a Roman bridge over the River Ayuela survives. We continue to make progress and about halfway along the route we can a detour to reach Alcuéscar. The most interesting feature of this town is the Basílica de Santa Lucía del Trampal, a magnificent example of Hispanic-Visigothic architecture that is unique in the south of Extremadura.

The landscape becomes richer as we approach a protected space, the Cornalvo Nature Reserve, which takes its name from that of a small reservoir, the oldest in Spain and possibly in Europe, which supplied the Roman city of Emerita Augusta. We pedal through the geographical centre of Extremadura and come to the small village of Aljucén, which is already in the province of Badajoz, and after crossing Mirandilla we arrive in Mérida leaving the Proserpina Reservoir to one side. If it is hot, this is a good place to freshen up before getting to know the city. Mérida surprises us with one of the most important Roman ensembles in Europe, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Its splendour of that period is reflected by magnificent buildings such as the amphitheatre, the circus, temples, houses, thermal baths, bridges, aqueducts, and its theatre, which has been preserved in exceptional condition and which nowadays again puts on theatre performances. If you come in summer this is one of the greatest pleasures awaiting you: sitting on its terracing and seeing a play during its International Classical Theatre Festival.

 

Points of Interest

  • These are the two fortresses closest to each other in the whole of Spain. Both have been declared Assets of Cultural Interest. The Castillo de Arguijuelas de Abajo was built in the 15th century by Francisco Ovando the Elder with a walled enclosure, defensive towers, and a beautiful garden. It is now used as a setting for celebrations. The Castillo de Arguijuelas de Arriba was subsequently built in the 16th century, also by the Ovando family, on a slightly higher hillock. It is also battlemented with four towers, one of which is prismatic. Both castles are in a very good state of repair.

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    Coordinates: 39.3476933,-6.3357328

  • This is an unusual construction in that it is the only example of a Visigothic basilica in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. It is also noted for its architectural peculiarities as it has an unusual chevet with three independent separate naves which gives access to a curious transept. The church was probably built in the 7th century B.C. and was part of a monastic ensemble.

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    Coordinates: 39.1528172,-6.2248523

  • This colossal work of Roman engineering of the 1st century A.D. was built to supply Mérida with water from the Proserpina Reservoir. It retains 73 pillars which support an impressive arcade to overcome the varying levels of the terrain; at the deepest part of the valley of the River Albarregas it has a height of some 25 metres. It is one of the longest and best preserved in Spain and the eighth most beautiful in the world according to the National Geographic.

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    Coordinates: 38.9235899,-6.3501426

  • This is the most emblematic of the public buildings of Emerita Augusta. Its construction was ordered by Marcus Agrippa in the year 18 B.C., although the stage was remodelled in the times of Trajan and Hadrian. It was built of dressed granite with a huge cavea with a capacity of 5,500 spectators. Nowadays it is the main setting for the International Festival of Classical Theatre of Mérida and the Stone and Music Festival.

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    Coordinates: 38.9152027,-6.3406923

  • Ruins of what was the stage for battles between gladiators and wild beasts. Both the amphitheatre and the theatre were built by making use of a hillside, the former in the 8th century B.C. With a capacity of some 14.000 spectators, today only the ima cavea and parts of the media cavea remain. Nowadays it is a stage for performances and concerts of Emerita Lúdica.

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    Coordinates: 38.9161701,-6.340149

  • Within the archaeological ensemble of the city and only a few metres from the Roman theatre stands the museum building, an exceptional work by Rafael Moneo. On its three floors it houses the most important archaeological collection of the Roman civilisation. A museum of international importance which carries out research and disseminates Roman culture.

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    Coordinates: 38.9169464,-6.3417482

  • It has been dated as being from the 1st century B.C. It was the first architectural work to be erected in the city of Emerita Augusta and is built of concrete and granite ashlars. It is one of the longest bridges of the Roman world with a length of almost 800 metres and 60 round arches. It was the only bridge in the centre of the city until the mid-20th century and was open to vehicles until 1991.

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    Coordinates: 38.9148267,-6.3504814

  • Located in what was the “Colonial Forum”, the urban and business centre of Emerita Augusta. It was a peripteral temple built in the 1st century B.C. and is the only Roman religious building which survives from the ancient city, partly because in the 16th century the Palacio de los Condes Corbos was built on its cella. It was dedicated to the Emperor and not to the goddess Diana.

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    Coordinates: 38.9163474,-6.3463838

  • Located 4 km from Mérida, this reservoir dates from Roman times. It is the largest of those known from the Mediterranean region. Popularly known as La Charca (The Pool), it is part of the archaeological ensemble of Mérida which has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is currently a bathing area where you can cool off in the summer; it has an artificial beach and restaurants.

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    Coordinates: 38.9724196,-6.3697353

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Section 22

Cáceres - Mérida - 70Km: 70

  • Elevation
  • Heritage
  • Nature
  • Shops and cycling services