Updated May 2019
This week after the #TBMPlasencia has been a bit crazy. Truth is I had never been to this region of Spain and I’ve loved both the city and the nature surrounding it!
The event didn’t allow for much between meetings and activities, but find below my favorites of Plasencia, so you don’t miss any of these when you visit the medieval city and around.
The cathedral(s) of Plasencia
Yes, it is not one, but two cathedrals what you will find in Plasencia. Something about works that didn’t get finished because the money run out (it also used to happen centuries ago) and recycling, that you will clearly see when you visit the place. What you see below is the “New” cathedral, the one that they started to build “eating out” the old one.
It was meant to be an impressive cathedral, with many colors, gold and blue everywhere, decorating the columns. High and beautiful and highly detailed. Today, you can only see some of the golden details and some blue (what was kept from the centuries passing by.)
For history buffs, this is a key point you shouldn’t miss. Here Juana la Beltraneja was married to Afonso V of Portugal, claiming for themselves the throne of Castille (against Isabel the Catholic, thus leading to a war).
It is worth going in, even if you are only interested in seeing how one cathedral “eats” the other. Below you can see how the walls and arches were left at half height, waiting for a better time when they would move the stones from one side to the other, and highligting the differences from the romanesque style of the old cathedral to the highly detailed one.
On the outside, keep an eye for the “vítores” the red paintings on the walls that used to be painted with bull’s blood and spices. They were written by the students that some hundreds of years ago wanted to thank those paying for their education.
And, now that you are there, don’t forget to check the roofs. You can go on a tour up there, as long as the storks allow (they are the queens and kings of this realm over the medieval city.)
the episcopal palace
While you can only visit the patio (unless there is an exhibition inside or an special guided visit), it is worth checking this place out.
The “bishop’s” palace is connected with the old cathedral of Plasencia and the wall. It is actually made of two different buildings, one from the Renaissance and another colonial style, with its farming lands and traditional patios (of private use of the priests and Bishop who live here).
The palace of Monroy / house of the two towers
The oldest manor house of Plasencia is also an important proof of how bad it was for Plasencia to be on the side of Juana la Beltraneja against Isabel of Castille (and also an important spot for the history of the Americas). You cannot go inside, but it is worth taking a good look at it from the outside.
They say that here was the place where Spain started a run against the slavery of American indians (something that started Fray Bartolomé de las Casas and that didn’t include other slaves, as they were a big business over here.)
What to see near Plasencia
If you want to keep exploring Extremadura from Plasencia, don’t miss the Monastery of Yuste, the last destination of emperor Charles V. Or the beautiful village of Garganta La Olla, with its jewish roots and the colorful houses.
And, without leaving Plasencia city, only 5 kilometres away (which make a nice hiking route that can also be done by car) is the chapel of Virgen del Puerto, home of the saint patron of the city and surrounded by a beautiful nature and views of the valley.
The palace of Marquis of Mirabel, the Parador and the jewish town
This palace, which belongs now to the Marquis of Griñón and Cubas, opens its doors every once in a while for visits (check with the tourist office). Next to it, what it was once a XV Century convent is now a hotel from the Parador chain. Two very interesting buildings that were built over what was once the jewish town of Plasencia.
The Aljama, torn down to built the convent, moved the jewish towards the Plaza Mayor, back then the worst place in town, as it was the place for the daily market, noisy, smelly and crowded. Check for the signals that mark the old jewish quarter from here to the Plaza Mayor.
The Plaza mayor
As I was telling you right above, the Plaza Mayor was not the best place to live back in the XV Century, but later in the XIX Century, when the public market was built, the open air market was forbidden here and it started to gain popularity.
The houses where the poor used to live were removed one by one (only one is left now.) And at the early 20th Century the place lost the last trace of “religiousness” when a republican mayor covered the views of a church with a Flemish-like building.
But the most iconic thing here is granpa Mayorga, a figure you should look for over your head when the bells ring at the town hall.
Puerta del Carro, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Talavera… Too many “doors” that will help you notice the wall in Plasencia, even when the buildings have used it to their convenience and hide it at plain view. A nice spot to “spot” it is Torre Lucía (tower Lucía).
It is the only defensive tower that remains intact and a great place to overview the valleys surrounding the city. It also has a small museum where you can learn more about the medieval city of Plasencia.
This wall used to be an important limit for the pilgrims that used the Silver Way (now part of the Camino), who couldn’t croos the walls and forced monasteries to stay outside if they wanted to shelter them.
So, it’s only a summary of what you will find in Plasencia, but there’s plenty of things to see and do in Plasencia city, which you can enhance with a trip to Herte, la Vera and the stunning nature of Extremadura. Have a great weekend!
Where to sleep in plasencia
There are plenty of B&B options around Plasencia, but if you really want to enjoy the city and the tapas at the medieval town, I would recommend sleeping at an old palace or monastery, such as the Parador de Plasencia ot the palace Palacio Carvajal Girón.
But if you are looking for a more modern (and affordable) option, the Hotel Exe, is just next Plaza Mayor.