Plasencia is a walled market city in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura, Western Spain. Situated on the bank of the Jerte River, Plasencia has a historic quarter that is a consequence of the city’s strategic location along the Silver Route, or Ruta de la Plata. Since the 15th century, the noblemen of the region began to move to Plasencia, defining its current appearance.

Founded as a city in 1186 by King Alfonso VIII of Castile on the banks of the Jerte as a city-fortress, with the double purpose of colonizing and guarding the then south-western border of the Kingdom, it fell briefly to the Moors of Yaqub al-Mansur in 1196, being reconquered by the Christians the year after. The city remained under direct Royal rule until John II of Castile gave it to the House of Zúñiga in 1442 abolishing its Fuero. This encountered the opposition of both the local nobles and the general population and resulted in periodical revolts throughout the second half of the 15th century. In this hostile climate against the crown, in 1475 Plasencia played host to the wedding of 13-year-old Princess Joan La Betraneja, pretender to the throne of Castile and her ambitious uncle King Afonso V of Portugal. After La Beltraneja’s cause was defeated in the Battle of Toro, Plasencia paid the penalty and the Castilian Crown capped the towers of the nobles’ palaces. The Fuero was eventually restored in 1488. The shortened tower of the venue of the wedding, La Casa de Las Argollas, is still standing in Calle del Rey, just off Plaza Mayor.

Main sights

  • The double line of walls, with six gates and 68 towers, dating to 1197. The Keep (or Alcázar) was demolished in 1941.
  • Remains of the Roman aqueduct
  • Les Catedrales, a complex of two cathedrals. In 1189, by request of Alfonso VIII, Plasencia was declared head of dioceses by Pope Clement III and work on a Romanesque Cathedral started shortly after, concluding sometime in the 18th century, by which time fashions had changed and Gothic elements had been added in the forms of pointed archs to the Nave and a rose window to the main South Entrance, while the cloister, on the East side bordering the city walls, was enterely Gothic. In the 15th century the Dioceses decided to build a grand Gothic Cathedral in the same site, demolishing the old cathedral as the new one was being built. Work started in 1498 and by the 16th century, standard Renaissance elements had been added such as the East Entrance and the elaborate Choir Seating, while the local style of the period, Plateresque, is present in the West (main) and the Presbytery Entrances. Work continued until the 18th century, when, with only theSanctuary and the Transept of the New Cathedral finished, the project was abandoned leaving behind a somewhat odd result, as most of the Nave of the Old Cathedral, its cloister and its unique Octagonal Tower housing the Sala CapitularChapel is still attached to the New Cathedral, while the new choir, that was supposed to stand along the New Nave, was positioned across the transept.
  • The Museum, near the Cathedral, is home to artworks by Jusepe de Ribera and Luis de Morales.
  • Renaissance Town Hall, in the Plaza Mayor
  • Casa consistorial (16th-18th centuries)
  • Palacio de los marqueses de Mirabel (16th century) with a two-order court
  • Church of San Martín (13th century). It has a nave and two aisles, and a retablo by Luis de Morales (1570).
  • Church and convent of Santo Domingo (St. Dominic, mid-15th century)
  • Church of San Esteban (15th century), with an apse in Gothic style. The high altar is transitional Plateresque-Baroque style.
  • Sanctuary of Virgen del Puerto, some 5 kilometers from the city, begun in the 15th century but finished three centuries later.
  • Monastery of San Jeronimo de Yuste, where emperor Charles V died in 1558, and the castle of Jarandilla de la Vera (15th century). Nature resorts include the Monfrague Natural Park.
  • Canchos de Ramiro y Ladronera Protected Area.

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