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Extremadura Holidays

Extremadura holidays

One of the least known yet most fascinating regions of Spain, Extremadura is the size of the Netherlands but with a population of only one million. To the west is Portugal, to the south Andalucia, to the north Castilla y Leon, and to the east Castilla La Mancha.

Caceres, Extremadura

Holidays In Extremadura

The climate is generally Mediterranean, although to the north and west of the region it is more continental and the temperatures are slightly lower.  The winters tend to be mild with average temperatures of around 8°C but the summers are hot and average temperatures are around 28°C in July but sometimes rising to 40°C.  There can be snow in the mountains.

The landscape is one of rolling hills and vast plains of cereals and Dehesas, being enormous areas of cork oaks, holm oaks and olive trees with some sweet chestnuts.  Some of the oaks are centuries old.  This wild region is, of course, the home of the black pig which, for the final three months of its life - between October and December - is allowed to roam free and eat the holm oak acorns. The resultant ‘Jamon Iberico Puro Bellota’ is a unique and much sought after ham which can retail at over £1,500 for a leg in the UK but which is much more reasonably priced if purchased locally. The farming of black pigs is one of the main industries of the region which takes great pride in the production of these much sought after hams.

Roman remains are everywhere in the region and Mérida was the Roman capital of Lusitania which included the whole of Portugal and was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire.  The Moors followed the Romans and used much of the Roman stone to construct their Alcasabas and mosques and were then followed by the Christian Kings in 1232.  The towns of Cáceres and Trujillo are two of the most fascinating medieval towns in Spain featuring the most beautifully preserved historical settlements. Many medieval inhabitants would hardly see a change in their surroundings.

Extremadura is a remote region, bordering Portugal, with areas of mountains, forests, steppes, lakes and nature reserves.  The Monfragüe National Park and the Cornalvo Natural Park are now prime environments for migratory birds with an enormous diversity of birds and one of the prime regions in Europe for birdwatchers.

Life has always been hard in Extremadura and for that reason, to escape poverty, saw the conquistadors set sail on their adventures to the New World. Hernan Cortes and Andres Tapia were born in Medellin, a small village but in Colombia the second largest city.  Francisco Pizarro and his three brothers, Alonso de Sotomayor and Francisco de Orellana were all born in Trujillo.
Hernando de Soto and Vasco Nunes de Balboa were both born in Jerez de los Caballeros near Badajoz.  Pedro de Valdivia was born in Villanueva de la Serena also near Badajoz and Pedro de Alvarado was born in Badajoz.  Ines Suarez, a female conquistador who conquered Chile along with Pedro de Valdivia, was born in Plasencia.  Many towns and cities in the new world are named after Extremaduran towns and villages like Merida, Valdivia, La Serena and Santiago, the capital of Chile in the new world.

There is much to see and do in Extremadura and combinations with Andalucia or with the Alentejo, Centro or Norte regions of Portugal would make fascinating visits.

See the full list of activities available in Extremadura here.

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