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Guadalupe. Cáceres

An historical hiatus on the edge of time

Located in the natural parkland of Villuercas, surrounded by the Sierras de Guadalupe and Altimira, Guadalupe is a small village with a big significance. Here it was that one fine day at the end of the 13th century, a shepherd by the name of Gil Cordero, had a visitation from the Virgin Mary that led him to discover a small wooden sculpture hidden on the banks of the river Guadalupejo.

The image, with a black face and holding a baby, was interpreted to be the image of the Virgin holding the baby Jesus. Now housed in an appropriately sumptuous altarpiece within one of the most magnificent monasteries in Europe, the image is recognised as the Patron Saint of Extremadura. In 1928, it was ordained Queen of the Spanish speaking world by the Pope’s special representative and by the king, Alfonso XIII.

Although the monastery of Guadalupe, where the image of May is housed, is the main attraction, the town itself offers many distractions. It’s easy to find information about what to see and where to go in and around the town and walking in the beautiful hills that surround the town is not difficult.

One of the walks is called the Route of the Hermitages. A circular walk of around 10 kilometres, it takes in two small hermitages that date from the 15th and 16th centuries. It begins by following a disused railway line part of which included an elegant viaduct that soars over the river Guadalupejo below. Another one, a small hermitage called Humilladero was constructed around four kilometres to the north of the town. Again, it is included in a (longer) walk but can be easily reached by car along the EX118 towards Navalmoral de la Mata. The Humilladero was constructed in the 16th century and marks the spot where pilgrims first catch sight of the monastery of Guadalupe where the image of the Virgin Mary is housed.

The principal town square is located outside the monastery and several street cafes allow contemplation of the view of the ornate facade of the monastery. Hanging houses supported by granite pillars add to the sensation of being transported back to the middle ages.

Guadalupe is a carefully preserved town with excellent communications from Madrid and the south of Spain. Its location in Cáceres puts it within reach of other must-see destinations such as Mérida, Trujillo and Badajoz while its favoured position presents a unique opportunity to discover some of the most picturesque and vivid scenery in Spain.

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