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The Renaissance Route

Our extensive route which will cover more than thirty Extremaduran towns and villages starts in the town of Plasencia, founded by the banks of the river Jerte by Alfonso VII in 1186.

Outstanding here is the combination of its Old and New Cathedrals begun in 1489 under the direction of Enrique Egas who was joined by excellent representatives of the Spanish Renaissance, such as Juan de Álava, Francisco de Colonia, Diego de Siloé, Alonso de Covarrubias o Rodrigo Gil de Ontañón.

In the Renaissance style, outstanding are its magnificent vault and its two Plateresque façades, the “Enlosado” façade, from the second quarter of the 16th century (1538-48), a work attributed to Gil de Siloé and that of the “Evangelio” (Gospel) or main façade, finished in 1558 by Gil de Ontañón and begun by Juan de Álava.

We must not forget the Plateresque doorway with Florentine influences of the Sacristy and its attractive Railings , work of the Galician artist Juan Bautista Celma, who finished it in 1606.

Outside the cathedral and in Renaissance style we can see the façade of the Episcopal Palace which is situated opposite the Romanesque door of the Cathedral. Preserved on it is the coat of arms of the former bishop of the town Vargas Carvajal. . In the “Plaza Leal” (Leal Square) there is a magnificent façade of dressed ashlar from the 16th century belonging to the Palace “Carvajal –Girón”.

Opposite the Church of “El Salvador” we can visit the sumptuous Renaissance palace of the “Marqueses de Mirabel” , one of the civil buildings with most historic and artistic interest in Plasencia. Built by the Duke and Duchess of Plasencia, Don Alvaro de Zuñiga and Doña Isabel Pimentel in the 15th century. It has , at the rear, an excellent balcony in the Plateresque style.

Near Plasencia we can find some magnificent examples of religious and civil architecture from the 16th c. in Renaissance style. We refer to the Parish Church of “San Juan” in Malpartida de Plasencia, carried out under the prompting of the Bishop Vargas de Carvajal and the emotive Palace of the “Condes de Osorno” in Pasarón de la Vera, which has clear Italian Renaissance influence, built during the middle of the 16th century under the initiative of Garci-Fernández Manrique de Lara, with an impressive open arcaded gallery decorated with medallions.

From Pasarón de la Vera we can go on to Garganta la Olla, an original place in La Vera which has admirable popular architecture and the attractive Parish Church of “San Lorenzo”, built under the bishop Pedro Ponce de León between 1560 and 1573. Adjoining the Monastery of Yuste, the historic residence, lived in the King of Castille and the Emperor of Germany Charles I, was built.

In its interior the Monastery had the use of an interesting Renaissance Cloister , which was built in 1554 thanks to the Count and Countess of Oropesa.

To the north of Plasencia in the Valle de Ambroz we can visit the Palace of the “Duques de Alba” in Abadía which was declared a National Monument in 1931. The beauty of its gardens was often made reference to in previous centuries.

Towards the Valley of the river Alagón we will find Coria an important place of Roman origin, whose Cathedral would be renovated by Martín de Solórzano and Bartolomé de Pelayos. Outstanding from these years is its “Portada (Façade) del Perdón”, in Plateresque style, the work of Pedro Ybarra. He was also responsible, from 1536, for the rectangular form which the Cathedral now has.

The railings of the choir and the Plateresque gallery added to the Gothic porch of the “Evangelio” (Gospel) side, were also carried in this century.

The nearby area of Sierra de Gata has excellent Renaissance style ecclesiastical buildings in the Churches of Gata, Hoyos and Acebo, with cross vaults and plane walls. One can even find Romanesque and Gothic details characteristic of previous centuries.

Further south, in Alcantara the monumental building of “San Benito de Alcantara” awaits us, the real administrative and also religious centre of the Order of Alcantara whose building began from 1506. Among others Pedro Larrea or Pedro Ybarra took part in its construction, the final result of their work being the Convent, the Church which was never completed and the Hospice.

Of particular interest are the coat of arms of the first kings of the House of Austria, which figure on the walls of the residential building where we can observe an attractive loggia on three levels which has many basket-handle and round arches.

In the Church of “Ntra. Sra. de Rocamador” there are some panels with paintings by the great artist of the epoch Luis de Morales, which come from the Convent of “San Benito”.
In Brozas, near Alcántara, is the Church of “Santa María la Mayor” whose interior with tree naves was built in the 16th century. In the west doorway we can observe a beautiful mixture of Renaissance decoration with others of Gothic style.

In Valencia de Alcántara, which borders which the Alentejo lands, the Parish Church of “Ntra. Sra. de Rocamador” with three naves, which was begun in the 15th century and finished in the 16th century, is a good example of a Renaissance building in this western area of Extremadura, where the work of Pedro Ybarra is evident.

On the route towards the capital of Badajoz we can stop to visit Alburquerque and its Church of “San Mateo”, built in the 16th century.

In Badajoz, in the Cathedral, the Plateresque features of one of its windows in the tower stand out. Inside the Cathedral we can admire the attractive bronze “Lauda” (gravestone with an inscription and/or a coat of arms) of D. Lorenzo Suarez de Figeroa produced in Venice and attributed to the workshop of Alesandro Leopardi, and the relief of the Virgin and Child from the year 1500, the work of Desiderio Setignano.

Worthy of a special mention is the collection of panels by Luis de Morales in the Cathedral Museum, dated to the mid 16th century and the Choir-stalls, the work of Jeronimo Valencia.

Nor should we forget the excellent precious metal work of the magnificent Renaissance monstrance, the collection of Tapestriesor the Plateresque railings the Chapel of Santa Ana.

Over the river Guadiana, the Palmas bridge finished in 1596 is of Renaissance style, as is the emblematic Puerta de Palmas (Palmas Gate) , the artistic symbol of the city built in 1551.

Not far from Badajoz, Talavera la Real, is fortunate to preserve the Church of “Ntra. Sra. de Gracia”, which has three naves and a barrel vault.

In beautiful Olivenza there is an excellent example of the Manueline style in the façade of the admired Church of “la Magdalena” and is attributed to Nicolas Chanterenne.

Another good example of a late Renaissance building is its Church of “Santa María del Castillo”, with its majestic interior with three naves with columns whose capitals are in the Ionic style.

The Order of Santiago, which in the 16th century contributed outstandingly to the spread of the Renaissance style in Extremadura , built an attractive group of buildings in this style in its primitive Extremaduran centre in Calera de León. An example is the Church of Santiago with an impressive doorway and its magnificent Conventual, built during the last third of the 16th century, with a beautiful patio with a double gallery similar in form to that of Mérida.

In welcoming Zafra, the renaissance left its mark in the “Alcázar” (fortress) of the Duke and the Duchess of Feria where we can admire the patio made under the instruction of Juan Herrera and which was built at the time of the Duke Don Gome during the middle of the 16th century.

The other compulsory visit is to the Parish Church of “La Candelaria”, with one nave, begun in the mid 16th century, under the initiative of the third Count of Feria D. Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa.

Los Santos de Maimona, a village belonging to the Order of Santiago until the 19th century, has in its monumental Church of “Ntra. Sra. de los Angeles” a group of the most attractive Plateresque doors in Extremadura. The one known as “del Perdón” on which there abundant Plateresque details of great beauty, stands out.

We can make our way towards the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, visiting on our way an interesting group of religious buildings of that century of which the following are outstanding: the tower-façadeof the Parish Church of “Ntra. Sra. del Valle in Villafranca de los Barros, finished in 1574, or the magnificent sculpture of Christ Crucified in the Parish Church of Ribera del Fresno.

Guareña, with its Parish Church of “Santa María”, has one of the largest religious buildings in Extremadura and its construction dates back to the middle of the 16th century at the time of the bishop of Plasencia Vargas de Carvajal. He did not hesitate to seek the advice of the famous Gil de Ontañón, among others, for the construction of this temple, evident for example in the doorway of the “Epístola” (Epistle) side. Its interior is full of Renaissance spatial solutions, which make it one of the most interesting examples of the century; its only nave is made up of for sections in which one can appreciate its tierceron vaults and the Ionic style of its columns.

Medellín, founded by the Romans on the banks of the river Guadiana, and where in 1485, the well-known Conquistador of Mexico Hernán Cortés was born, has in its centre, and of the Renaissance period although incomplete the Church of “Santa Cecilia” from the middle of the 16th century.

Don Benito, the main urban centre in the area of Vegas Altas, has a monumental example of a religious building with its Parish Church of “Santiago Apostol” , begun at the beginning of the 16th century and finished in 1611, with clear “herrerianas” influences.

Its doorways are outstanding, the north and south ones are identical. The doorway known as of ”San Pedro” or of “El Evangelio” (Gospel) is the most Renaissance of all.

Noteworthy also in its interior the space and light of the temple which has beautiful geminated windows, so particular to the Renaissance epoch.

The neighbouring Villanueva de la Serena, belonging to the Order of Alcántara of which it was the seat of the Priory from 1504, was also the homeland in 1497 of the discoverer of new Extremadura, now Chile, Pedro de Valdivia. His statue is opposite the Parish Church of “La Asunción” , built mid 16th with a tower made in 1634, with clear Baroque and “herrerianas” influences.

In Orellana la Vieja there is also a religious building from this century, the Parish Church of “la Inmaculada Concepción” . It was built in the 16th century under the initiative of the Marquis of Bélgida whose family inherited the Marquisate of Orellana. The ruins of his Palace begun in the 14th century and which in the 16th century was the best example of a civil construction in the area of the “Siberia Extremeña” are still preserved.

Guadalupe, as in previous artistic and historic periods, has in the interior of its Monastery and even in its village, interesting examples of Extremaduran Renaissance art. Since 1908 the Franciscan Fathers have carried out a remarkable restoration of its rooms which resulted in the Monastery being declared Heritage for Mankind in 1994 by the UNESCO.

In the old Chapter House is the “Museo de Miniados” (Books with miniature paintings) considered one of the best in the world, with very large Choir Books from the 14th to the 18th centuries, magnificent examples of the admirable activity of the Guadalupe Scriptorium. Outstanding is the Prior’s Books of Hours from the 16th century. The Museum of Sculptures and Painting is situated in the former Monastery pantry. Three canvases by El Greco are exhibited there, which come from the Parish Church of the now disappeared Talavera la Vieja.

The wrought iron railings, of Renaissance Gothic style, works of Friar Francisco de Salamanca and Friar Juan de Avila are dated to between 1510 and 1514.

The doors and the stairs in Plateresque style which give access to the choir of the Church, work of Luis de Toledo, with the collaboration of Alonso Covarrubias, are magnificent and dated to 1537.

Now in the village itself our attention is drawn to the façade of a building made entirely of ashlar work, the 16th century House of Gregorio López in the “Calle Sevilla”. It is of Renaissance style with dressed ashlar elements all over the frame and coffers worked in high relief, with the heraldic coat of arms of the family standing out.

Logrosán in the area called Las Villuercas has a magnificent Gothic-Renaissance Church, the Parish Church of “San Mateo”, on which the well-known Pedro de Ybarra worked. Interesting works of Renaissance style remain in its interior.

Before reaching Trujillo we will stop off in two places which possess interesting examples of religious buildings: Berzocana and Jaraicejo.

The first of them has a monumental building dedicated to Saint John the Baptist , which contains the relics of the first bishop of Ecija San Fulgencio and his sister Santa Florentina from the Visigothic period, who receive great devotion in all the area and east of Extremadura. During the 16th century and thanks to the intervention of the bishops in Plasencia, the Church acquired its present form, in which most noteworthy are its three naves covered with star-shaped cross vaults and without doubt, the Saints Chapel in which their remains are found. We must not forget an excellent silver processional cross from the 16th century.

The 16th century was one of the most important in terms of artistic history for Jaraicejo, some 30 kilometres from Trujillo. It is the time when the bishop of Plasencia in the person of Gutiérrez de Vargas Carvajal took charge of the building of the Parish Church of La Asunción, a work entrusted to Sancho de Cabrera in the middle of the century.

The portico on its southern façade is of interest, which faces the Main Square built on round arches. In that same century in this village, close to the Puerto de Miravete, the celebrated poetess Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza was born.

Known as “Turgalium”, Trujillo, occupied by Romans and Visigoths, and with more than five hundred years of Moslem occupation, was conquered in January 1232 by king Fernando III. In 1430 King Juan II granted it the title of City.

Trujillo would go down in history thanks to the Discovery of America, and in particular to the discoverer of Peru, Francisco de Pizarro who was from the city. The city grew from the 16th and 17th centuries due in part to the numerous buildings made by people from Trujillo who went to America and then returned to their birthplace to stay, providing Trujillo with constructions of enormous historical artistic value, which have made this city one of the most beautiful in Extremadura.

The Church of Santa María la Mayor , probably occupied by an Arabic mosque until the 13th century until the 13th century, and a late Romanesque Church which would be reformed in the 16th century, has in its interior three naves covered with cross vaults and many tombs from the 16th century.

The Alcazar de los Altamiranos, popularly known as the “Alcazarejo” was begun in the 13th century by Fernán Ruiz.

From the 16th century it conserves the main doorway with the shield of the Altamiranos, between the two decapitated towers.

The “Museo de la Coria”, previously the Convent of “San Francisco el Real de la Puerta de Coria”, owes its present aspect to the restoration work of the Xavier de Salas Foundation which has its headquarters there. It has three rooms dedicated to the Didactic Museum on themes to do with the Conquest of America.

The Main Square of Trujillo (Plaza Mayor) has been the commercial and nerve centre of the city for centuries with markets, public spectacles etc. and from the 16th century it would become a stately Renaissance square, where the noble families of the city would seek establish their places of residence.

In this square we find the Church of San Martín whose construction begun in the 14th century and finished in the 16th century.

It has just one nave covered with cross vaults and side chapels closed by Renaissance style railings. Carlos V prayed here before starting his journey to Seville to marry Isabel of Portugal. The Palace of the Duke and Duchess of “San Carlos” is opposite the “Puerta de Limas”, of the Church of “San Martín”; the work began in the 16th century. In 1610 it was restored again for the Convent of the Hieronymite nuns.

The corner balcony is framed by two-headed eagles, which hold the arms of Vargas Carvajal family. Inside we can contemplate a square shaped patio, in the classic style and two levels of arches on Tuscan columns.

The Palace of the Marquisate of “Piedras Albas” is a Renaissance palace of the 16th century, built on the so-called “bread” colonnade by Pedro Suarez de Toledo. The loggia with three basket-handle arches stands out, where the influence of the Florentine style is noted. The Palace of the Marquis and Marquise of “la Conquista” popularly known as the “shield” Palace, is without doubt one of the most important buildings among the architecture of Trujillos from the 16th century. Its work begun around 1570, were paid by Hernando Pizarro. The corner balcony is decorated, almost entirely, with Plateresque motifs and flanked by two balustrade columns. Above the balcony figures a grand shield bearing the arms which the King and Emperor Carlos V gave to Francisco Pizarro the discoverer of Peru

The Palace of “Juan Pizarro de Orellana” is reached from the Main Square via “el cañón de la carcel” (prison passage), this palace being the house of the first Chief magistrate of the city of Cuzco, at the end of the 16th century.

This Palace is the product of the transformation of Diego Vargas’s house-fort into a Renaissance Palace. The interior retains an interesting Plateresque patio. Miguel de Cervantes stayed here when he travelled to the Monastery of Guadalupe to give thanks for his freedom after years of captivity in Algiers.

Before completing our route in Cáceres we invite you to visit two places very near the city. Casar de Cáceres has an interesting example of 16th c. religious architecture in its Parish Church of “la Asunción”, in which many craftsmen participated, among them the famous Pedro de Ybarra. In Arroyo de la Luz, some twenty kilometres from Cáceres, is the Parish Church of “Ntra. Sra. de la Asunción” with one nave, which has one of the best altarpieces by the distinguished artist Luis de Morales .

It was painted by him around 1560 and perfectly restored a few decades ago, now becoming one of the jewels of Extremaduran Renaissance altarpiece art. Cáceres was occupied at the end of the 13th century by aristocratic families who built during that and the following centuries, palaces, noble houses etc. the basic and fundamental pillar of the monumental quarter of Cáceres, declared a Heritage for Mankind.

The majority of the palaces and noble houses of monumental Cáceres date from the 16th century. Thanks to the large fortunes brought from America. They have the typical features of buildings of a marked defensive character. That century was the most important moment for the cultural and artistic development of Cáceres and when the city would complete, almost definitely, its monumental whole.

The House of “los Toledos Moctezuma” was built during the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th entury. In its interior there are some magnificent pictorial friezes, with Roman characters mixed with Aztecs. Nearby is the Palace Godoy, which was the house of the Conquistador Francisco Godoy, who fought with Pizarro and Almagro in Peru and Chile. It possesses one of the most beautiful corner balconies in Cáceres, in the Mannerist style. The interior patio has two galleries; its construction dates from the middle of the 16th century.

The Church of “Santiago” was probably built on the previous temple from the 12th century and the 16th century would bring great changes to its definitive configuration, giving it its present aspect.

Inside, the beautiful High Altarpiece stands out, produced by Alonso de Berruguete and his workshop. The vault was designed and raised by Rodrigo Gíl de Ontañón.

The House of Carvajal was constructed between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. Over its doorway the coat of arms of the Carvajal family stands out, famous for having taken King Fernando IV before the Tribunal of God. This house which was burnt down, was masterly restored to become the headquarters of the “Patronato de Turismo y Artesanía” (The Tourist and Crafts Board), belonging to the “Diputación” (County Council) of Cáceres.

The “Concatedral” of “Santa María” (The Church of Santa María) of marked Romanesque style with transition to the Gothic, also possesses features of the Renaissance in its choir and in the tower.

The Altarpiece of the Main Chapel is the work of Roque Badulque and Guillén Ferrant in 1551, made of cedar wood and in Renaissance style.

The doorway of the Sacristy is one of the most important and beautiful examples of the Extremaduran Plateresque.

Opposite the main façade of the Church of “Santa María” is the Episcopal Palace, work of the 15th and 16th centuries, with a magnificent Renaissance façade.

Next to the Episcopal Palace is the Palace of “Hernando de Ovando” built in 1519, in Renaissance style.

This was the mansion of Hernado de Ovando who was the brother of the first governor of La Española, Friar Nicolás de Ovando.

The Palace of “los Golfines de Abajo” has an excellent Plateresque façade with notable Gothic elements from the 16th century. The Catholic Monarchs stayed in this palace. The lineage room shows the various families who have gradually joined the stock of the “Golfines”.

The Church of “San Mateo” was built between the 16th and the 18th centuries and has an interesting Renaissance Chapel, although the rest of the temple is of late Gothic style, its Plateresque door also being outstanding. Nearby is the Palace-House of “los Golfines de Arriba” built in the 15th century. Its five towers stand out, one of which dates from the 16th century and which has not had its top removed because its owner García Golfín had the permission from the Catholic King to maintain it.

A little below the Square of “San Mateo” we can see the House of the “Sres. de Torreorgaz” with an excellent tower from the 16th century and an interior patio. Today it is the home of the “Parador de Turismo” for which its restoration has been very successful.

The Convent of “San Francisco”, built at the end of the 15th century has an attractive Renaissance cloister , and is now occupied by the Cultural Institution, “El Brocense”.

TOWNS

Plasencia
Pasarón de La Vera
Yuste
Coria
Abadía
Alcántara
Brozas
Valencia de Alcántara
Badajoz
Olivenza
Calera de León
Los Santos de Maimona
Zafra
Guareña
Don Benito
Orellana la Vieja
Villanueva de La Serena
Berzocana
Guadalupe
Trujillo
Cáceres
Arroyo de la Luz

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