Trujillo – birthplace of the conquistadores

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MAGNIFICENT: The Plaza Mayor in Trujillo. Credit: Shutterstock

WHEN thoughts turn to Extremadura, most attention is focused on the magnificent Roman remains of Merida, or the equally impressive monasteries of Guadalupe and Yuste.

But for me the real jewel in the crown of this land of conquistadores is Trujillo – which must rank as having one of the prettiest old towns in this relatively untouched region.

Although the city has its origins in a primitive settlement called Turgalium, followed by Roman and Visigoth settlers, it was expanded by the Muslims who ruled for 500 years.

They were responsible for the imposing castle that dominates the city from its position atop the hill, which the city huddles against.

But it is the period that followed the Christian reconquest of the city, and particularly the 16th century that was thegenesis of Trujillo’s magnificence.

The city was the birthplace of many of the conquistadores who led Spain’s forays abroad. Most notable were Francisco de Pizarro, discoverer of Peru, Fray Jerónimo de Loaísa, the first Bishop of Cartagena de Indias, and Nuflo de Chaves, discoverer of Bolivia.

Much of the wealth of the Americas flowed into the city, and this was largely spent on magnificent houses, palaces and churches.

The ancient parts of Trujillo are mainly in two areas – the medieval village of Arabic origin and the Renaissance city itself clustered around the Plaza Mayor – a vast square. While the architecture differs, a walk through both districts – each with their own charms – has one thing in common. Storks have taken over the rooftops and are to be seen nesting everywhere – just as they did long before man arrived in this beautiful region.

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