We are going to visit one of the most visited villages in Extremadura: Guadalupe, a place of pilgrimage thanks to its monastery and its popular brunette virgin. Its architecture, its cobbled center, its parador, its giant nativity scene and, of course, its famous spicy morcilla will also amaze us.
In the southeast of Cáceres, Guadalupe receives daily the visit of dozens of pilgrims who have gone on foot from the surrounding villages, either to fulfill a promise or to go hiking in a picturesque and pleasant environment. But if walking did not fit into our plans, the simplest thing would be to take the car , take the Carretera de Extremadura and shortly before reaching Navalmoral de la Mata (going from Madrid), take the CC-120 to Peraleda de It kills the EX-118, which will take us to our destination.
Another option is to deviate before by the left part of the A-5 to cross the Region of the Jar and to arrive by the opposite side taking the EX-102. In both cases, if we get in the lower part of the town, we can leave the car in the municipal parking,and if we reach the top, the best option is to park on Avenida de Juan Pablo IIand walk down. We will be five minutes from the center in both cases.
The most impressive thing, of course, is to reach the center through the upper part of the municipality through Gregorio López street, full of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops with all the variety of local merchandising that we can imagine: toys, clothes, jewelery, ceramics, postcards, food … But it is not commerce that captivates the view, but the historic cobbled town dominated by the impressive Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, declared a World Heritage Site in 1993 and a worthy setting where the last season is filmed of Game of Thrones.
When we arrive at the Plaza de Santa María de Guadalupe (in whose fountain we can refresh ourselves) we will be delighted by the fullness of its front façade, where we can already appreciate the amount of styles that have bathed both its exterior and its interior since the Age Media: Mudejar, Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic, Neoclassical…
The visit to the church is free, and in it we will see baptismal fonts, numerous tombstones, a crucifix represented in paintings, the enormous organ and, of course, the jewel in the crown: the recharged main altar with the Virgin of Guadalupe (called commonly Morena Virgin, for its dark complexion) in the center, which will be in front or back, depending on the day and time, since it rotates to be kissed by those who decide to do the guided tour of the interior.
To access this visit, we will have to go to the corner as we left the church on the right, from where you can access a room where you can buy (more) souvenirs, take out the tickets and start the tour. The general admission costs five euros , lasts a long hour and, among other things, gives the right to see the Mudejar cloister , the embroidery museum, the museum of painting and sculpture and the front page of the Virgin (with the aforementioned option to kiss her for the believers).
Skirting the Monastery down (on the left side as we look at it from the front) we can appreciate its peculiar side, and if we climb the many stairs that are planted in front of us, we will reach your Hospedería, which besides offering hotel service, has a cafeteria and restaurant.
The quality of its cuisine is famous, and you can also taste it in the Gothic cloister of the Monastery, so if you want to give yourself a tribute, this is the place. Indicating that you want to eat here, you can access from the front room where the guided tours start, crossing the Mudejar cloister without having to go around the outside of the enclosure. If you simply want to look out to see the Gothic cloister, you can also do it without major problem.
On the other hand, if we decide to skirt the Monastery on the other side, that is, up the Marqués de la Romana street, we will soon discover on the right the Parador de Turismo, a hospital of the 15th century renovated for leisure. Although we have not thought about staying in it, worth glimpse a moment to see its pleasant courtyard adorned with orange and lemon trees.
Following up the street and turning left through the monasteries, it is worth continuing straight ahead for five or ten minutes to see the giant nativity scene of the town. It is exposed all year round inside a private house whose door we will find on the left, announced by a small sign (if we do not see it, it is best to ask any neighbor).
Countless figures are arranged in a huge model full of details that will be illuminated as our journey progresses: the birth, the wise men, the houses of the shepherds, the castles of the Romans… All with rivers of running water and floors topped with moss that give great realism to the reconstruction. The visit is free, but they will ask us for the will.
Back to the square, proceed for a moment through the arcades plagued by shops and restaurants to peek through the Arch of Seville and walk through the alleys that we will find later, watered by fountains and adorned by their characteristic balconies. The only downside is that we will have to suffer the siege of the waiters who will try to opt for their restaurant to eat in the square. Everyone will offer us a free tapa of black pudding, so it is not a reason that should influence our decision.
We recommend the Guadalupe Restaurant Bar, which is the one that neighbors visit, and that is always a good indication. It has an interior terrace and lounge, but it is advisable to book in advance if we want to secure a table. If we get it, we can delight with the caldereta Extremadura of suckling.
Just in front, accessing a corridor of shop windows that will transport us to more remote times, we will find the Butcher’s shop of Manuel Montero, a great option to buy typical products from Extremadura: they sell all kinds of sausages, goat and sheep cheeses, pitarra wines, paprika of La Vera, honey of Villuercas-Ibores, jams… But the star dish, without a doubt, is the local morcilla, of vegetables and in two variants: spicy (the most demanded) and not spicy. It will be difficult not to take a piece of Extremadura to give it to someone, or to ourselves.