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Badajoz Mini Guide
Welcome to Badajoz
Badajoz is a city in Extremadura, Spain and located close to the border of Portugal. The city lies within the ruins of a Moorish castle that looks down onto the River Guadiana. The castle walls and forts give an appearance of great strength, reflecting the city’s stormy history, even the 13th century Cathedral of St John has a similarity to a fortress. Being on the frontline, it has seen many sieges, most notably the Siege of Badajoz in 1812.
How do I get There?
The best way to get there is by air, you can fly from Barcelona
to Badajoz Airport. From there, car hire is a good option, so you can fully explore the area. There is a rail service from Madrid, if driving is not an option which leaves twice a day and takes around 5½ hours. If you are travelling into Portugal, a bus service leaves Lisbon, twice daily and arrives in Badajoz 2 hours 45 minutes later.
What Should I see in the City?
Start by discovering the historic quarter and stroll around the Plaza de San Jose and La Plaza Alta and look for the two old towers that guard the city entrance. From there you will see the magnificent Puente de las Palmas, a bridge built in 1460. It's 32 arches span the River Guadiana from Castle Hill to San Cristobal Fort. Explore the Alcazaba, a Moorish castle built in the 9th century, it is the best preserved castle in Spain, with many towers still intact. You can also see La Giralda, a minaret converted into a bell tower and take a walk in the gardens of La Galera. Badajoz has art galleries and museums for you to browse too. Just out of the city you'll find the regional capital Merida with its Roman Theatre, still hosting plays and musicals today.
What Food Should I try?
The cuisine there is best described as traditional and creative and the local produce is always the star including partridge and wild pig. There are many excellent restaurants in the city and a visit to a tapas bar there is a must! The area is one of the most promising wine producing regions, try the D.O. Ribera del Guadiana. Just two of the specialities there are La Serana cheese and Dehesa de Extremadura Serrano ham, they will give you a real taste of this part of Spain.
What can I Take Home?
You can buy locally made items made of leather or linen. Pottery is also a popular choice. Take home some local wine and foodie treats, like Serrano ham and olive oil. If you visit any of the nearby monasteries, they often produce local sweets that you can buy.
Anything Else to see Nearby?
You can drive easily to the towns of Merida and Zafar, which once more show the rich Moorish influence on the area.
Where can I Stay?
In the city, the 4 star Husa Zurbaran is popular as it is just a few minutes walk to all the attractions. After exploring the city, take a relaxing swim in the pool or sample traditional dishes in the hotel’s restaurant. If you want to stay somewhere really special, drive out to Almendral about 41km away. There you will find the idyllic Hotel Monasterio de Rocamador, a cosy 4 star hotel in a converted medieval monastery. Taste the best in Basque cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
- Try to be in the city for the festival known as 'From the Moon into the Fire' which combines the celebration of Corpus Christi and the feast of Saint John, San Juan locally. It features strange customs such as dipping highly decorated poles into the river and a mass of bonfires. The festival is accompanied by food, drink and music.
- There are only a few days to go now until the start of the Badajoz Carnival which marks the start of Lent. Colourful processions attended by thousands of people in costumes and accompanied by loud music and plenty of food and drink mean that a great time is sure to be had by all. Highlight of the week-long festival is the bizarre 'Burial of the Sardine', said to bring good luck to the city for the coming year.