Discover Extremadura atop an all-terrain bike.
Discover Extremadura atop an all-terrain bike.
EuroVelo is a European long distance cycling network which aims to connect the European continent through 12 long routes, crossing Europe from one end to another passing through the main cities and tourist areas.
In Spain, the EuroVelo 1 (EV1) route runs from Irún until Ayamonte, on the border with Portugal. The stretch of this route in Extremadura runs along the old Vía de la Plata path, starting at the provincial border between Salamanca and Cáceres, known as Puerto de Béjar and ends at Monesterio. This route has been divided into five stages along its path in Extremadura.
STAGE 1. BAÑOS DE MONTEMAYOR (PUERTO DE BÉJAR) - GALISTEO
Leaving behind the province of Salamanca and the village of Puerto de Béjar, we start the first EuroVelo 1 stage in Extremadura. The route runs through beautiful landscapes and via the Greenway to Baños de Montemayor. This village gives the cyclist the opportunity to relax in its well-known spa, in which he/she can not only enjoy its thermal springs but also travel back in time by visiting its springs of Roman origin.
The second point of interest on the stage, at kilometre 10, is the town of Hervás. It is highly valued as a summer destination and has one of the best Jewish quarters of the Iberian Peninsula with a magnificent network of alleyways and traditional architecture.
If you have the time and inclination, you can take a break from the main route to ascend the Puerto de Honduras through exuberant woodland of chestnut trees. It is snow-covered in winter and marks the dividing line with the neighbouring valley of the Jerte, which is known the world over for its cherry trees.
Our gentle downhill pedalling now takes us to Aldeanueva del Camino at an altitude of 530 metres. From this point on we are entering the Cáparra-Tierras de Granadilla district. Now it is the pasturelands or dehesas which accompany us on the route which soon take us to one of the most attractive points of this stage: the former Roman city of Cáparra. Discover this ancient city, which has little by little revealed its streets and buildings and its Quadriffons arch which is unique in Spain. In addition, nowadays it is one of the satellite stages of the Mérida Classical Theatre Festival.
We continue towards the south along the N-630 to Oliva de Plasencia and a little further on, if we want to go some 8 km off the EuroVelo 1 Route, we can visit Plasencia, the capital of the north of Extremadura. This majestic town with its noteworthy cathedral complex and interesting mansions is well worth a visit. In summer we can enjoy its green areas and its bathing area on the Jerte River, and if we arrive on a Tuesday we can shop at the famous market in the plaza.
Less than 15 kilometres away from Plasencia lies the Monfragüe National Park and Biosphere Reserve, a notable stronghold of Mediterranean woodland and one of the most important sites for birdwatching, especially birds of prey. Moreover, in late February bird enthusiasts should not miss the International Fair of Ornithological Tourism (FIO).
The remainder of this first stage continues on local roads through Carcaboso and Aldehuela del Jerte until we arrive in Galisteo. The end of this first EuroVelo 1 section in Extremadura is this pretty village, which is noted for its well preserved Almohad walls of pebbles from the river.
STAGE 2. GALISTEO - CÁCERES
This second stage of EuroVelo 1 runs from Galisteo along the Vía de la Plata towards Cáceres almost parallel to the old N-630 road. We begin pedalling on the plain of the Alagón Valley in the municipalities of Riolobos and Holguera. Then we rise to the Puerto de los Castaños, but not before going off the route a little to Pedroso de Acim in order to visit Santa María del Palancar, a monastery founded by San Pedro de Alcántara and which claims to be the smallest in the world; it marks the division between the Sierra de Cañaveral and the valley plain. After having crowned the pass we continue pedalling towards the municipality of Cañaveral. Before we get there we find the Castle of Grimaldo which protects the old Roman road. We continue on a track through a pinewood towards the Alcántara II Reservoir, where we can see the oldest Roman bridge in the world with segmental arches.
Our passage over the River Tajo gives us impressive views and we come to Casar de Cáceres, where a stop to recharge our batteries is a must. This town is famous for its Torta del Casar, a delicious creamy cheese with a Protected Denomination of Origin which gives us the strength to carry on. Don’t miss its cheese museum, and if you feel like it visit the Church of La Asunción or take a look at the Bus Station, a building of striking architecture which has become the symbol of this municipality.
We are some 10 kilometres from Cáceres, one of the most beautiful cities in the world; it has been a World Heritage Site since 1986. If we have the chance, a night stroll will give us an unforgettable experience of its historical medieval ensemble with its buildings and plazas which evoke both history and legend and have provided film sets on numerous occasions. This city is full of life and culture and also looks to modernity with the Helga Alvear Collection, one of the most important private ensembles in Europe. Moreover, if you come in May you can also attend the annual edition of the Womad Festival. And if you still have the time and the energy to continue pedalling, only 14 km away you can discover one of the most impressive natural landscapes to be found. Enjoy a well-earned rest while you contemplate the Natural Monument of Los Barruecos, dominated by large granite boulders, which has been the setting for the successful series Game of Thrones. It also features works by the artist Wolf Vostell, a pioneer of the Fluxus artistic movement. You can visit his museum, the Museo Vostell Malpartida.
STAGE 3. CÁCERES - MÉRIDA
On our EuroVelo 1 Route over some 72 kilometres we gradually leave behind the Montánchez–Tamuja district. We have been pedalling for some 10 km and we cross the village of Valdesalor which is located alongside a wetland of the same name. It is a Special Bird Protection Area (Zona de Especial Protección para Aves, ZEPA) in common with the Aldea del Cano Reservoir a little further on. On winter nights both lagoons are large roosting sites for cranes, which make a fine sight for bird lovers. On this section several constructions seem to watch over our route from low hills such as the Castle of Arguijuelas de Arriba, the Castle of Arguijuelas de Abajo, and the Castle of Garabato; we can find remains of Roman villas and even anthropomorphic tombs.
We come to the village of Casas de Don Antonio where a Roman bridge over the River Ayala survives. We continue to make progress and about halfway along the route we make a detour to reach Alcuéscar. The most interesting feature of this town is the Basílica de Santa Lucía del Trampal, a magnificent example of Hispanic-Visigothic architecture that is unique in the south of Extremadura.
The landscape becomes richer as we approach a protected space, the Cornalvo Nature Reserve, which takes its name from that of a small reservoir, the oldest in Spain and possibly in Europe, which supplied the Roman city of Emerita Augusta. We pedal through the geographical centre of Extremadura and come to the small village of Aljucén, which is already in the province of Badajoz, and after crossing Mirandilla we arrive in Mérida leaving the Proserpina Reservoir to one side. If it is hot, this is a good place to freshen up before getting to know the city. Mérida surprises us with one of the most important Roman ensembles in Europe, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Its splendour of that period is reflected by magnificent buildings such as the amphitheatre, the circus, temples, houses, thermal baths, bridges, aqueducts, and its theatre, which has been preserved in exceptional condition and which nowadays again puts on theatre performances. If you come in summer this is one of the greatest pleasures awaiting you: sitting on its terracing and seeing a play during its International Classical Theatre Festival.
STAGE 4. MÉRIDA - ZAFRA
We leave Mérida behind pedalling on the banks of the Guadiana as we enjoy a Special Bird Protection Area for aquatic species and cross the river by the old Roman Bridge. On this stage of EuroVelo 1 we cover a distance of 62 kilometres on the N-630 towards Seville. We cross the district of Tierra de Barros and the agricultural lands create a mosaic of vegetation in this area, which is famous for its wines with their Ribera del Guadiana Denomination of Origin.
Only 19 km away we cross the small town of Torremejía where we can stop to visit the Casa-Palacio de los Lastra, a fine Renaissance construction which has now been renovated as a hostel. A little further on and surrounded by an immense landscape of vines and olive groves we come to Almendralejo, the home of Romanticism as it is the birthplace of José de Espronceda and Carolina Coronado. It is worth strolling through its streets and visiting its churches and mansions, but its true attraction lies in its wine cellars. We can visit the Museum of the Sciences of Wine and taste some of its wines and even its cava, as this is one of the few places in Spain outside Cataluña to produce sparkling wine with this same denomination of origin.
We continue to enjoy a pleasant ride through the plains of the Tierra de Barros towards Villafranca de los Barros, which is known as the Town of Music and where we have the opportunity of visiting the interesting collection of the Historical-Ethnographical Museum (MUVI). This town is studded with religious and civil buildings of historical-artistic interest, as is the case at the following point of this stage, Los Santos de Maimona, where you should not fail to visit its parish church with its impressive plateresque doorway. Don’t miss either its Manuel Santiago Morato Museum of Plastic Arts or the Palacio de la Encomienda, the best preserved example of Santiago architecture in Spain.
We pedal along a road which crosses the Sierra de San Cristóbal to reach from Los Santos de Maimona the welcoming and noble town of Zafra, which has been declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble and is internationally known for its International Stockbreeding Fair (Feria Internacional Ganadera, FIG). This will be the end of our stage. We will stay in the Palacio de los Duques de Feria, which is currently the Parador de Turismo, or in any of the many accommodation establishments of this small town, recharging our batteries as we savour the exquisite gastronomy of the area and relax visiting the Museo de Santa Clara devoted to monastic life, or strolling among the monuments of its old quarter.
STAGE 5. ZAFRA - MONESTERIO (PROVINCIAL BORDER)
We travel the last 65 kilometres of EuroVelo 1 in its passage through Extremadura. On this section we leave Zafra and depart for the town of Monesterio, bordering on Andalusia, on a stage running through extensive dehesas devoted to rearing Iberian pigs.
We are heading for the south to Puebla de Sancho Pérez, where if we are curious to do so we can visit what is said to be the oldest bullring in Spain, which is adjacent to the Chapel of Belén. The town is also known for its El Raposo Spa some 5 kilometres away with its waters with curative powers in a pleasant environment which is worth exploring. And if you like archaeology you should make a detour to Medina de las Torres to get to know the former Contributa Iulia Ugultunia, the most important Roman town of Baeturia of the Celtici.
Our ride continues along the BAV-024 towards Calzadilla de los Barros. We should not leave the town without visiting its Parish Church of El Divino Salvador, which holds the best Mudejar Gothic altarpiece in Extremadura.
We continue pedalling to the provincial border and reach Fuente de Cantos, which is an unusual town and the birthplace of great painters such as Nicolás Megía and Francisco de Zurbarán. To understand the universe of this painter of genius we can visit his Casa Museum. And if it is late April we will attend the gastronomic festival, the Chanfaina, to taste the traditional stew of shepherds in Extremadura. Only 6 kilometres away lies the archaeological site of Los Castillejos, a settlement with a long history going back to the Neolithic.
This stage comes to an end together with the EuroVelo 1 Route in Extremadura in the municipality of Monesterio, where we must stop off to eat and visit the Ham Museum. We will be unable to resist tasting the delicious products of the Iberian pig, especially its famous acorn-cured Iberian ham. This farewell will leave a good taste in the mouth. We now only have to ride 15 kilometres through the magnificent pastures of the dehesa to reach the town of Real de la Jara in the province of Seville.