The first day trip I did during my recent summer holiday in Extremadura was to Cabañas del Castillo. I started off with a 3-hour walking route from the village to the sierra de la Ortijuela and back. Then, I walked up to the castle to enjoy what has entered my top 3 of panoramic views in Extremadura.
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•I have NOT been paid for writing it.
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Hospedería Conventual de Alcántara is a 15th-century former convent turned 4-star hotel in the beautiful town of Alcántara, in Cáceres province. I booked it for a one-night family stay there in July 2020 and these are my impressions:
Castillo de Cabañas
The castle was built by the Muslims in the 12th century on a sheer rock. It isn’t particularly remarkable from a touristic point of view, as it’s in a semi-ruinous condition. But you don’t go to Cabañas for the castle. You go to Cabañas for the views from the castle.
Going up (and down)
The path leading up to the castle starts near the local church, barely 500m away. ‘Short and easy’, I thought. Well, not quite. Yes, I had just completed a 3-hour walking route in the heat (a dedicated article will be coming soon), but it wasn’t just that. Most of those 500 metres are actually tricky. Imagine huge stairs carved into a rock with steps too high, too uneven and too full of holes, the only help to get you up there being a rope.
If going up is tricky, going down is even worse. I walked up very slowly, because the rocks are so uneven that it’s relatively easy to twist an ankle or to trip.
I’m still thinking about the man I saw on my way down who asked me whether there was any place to stop on the way up, because he had knee problems. I hope he walked up and down ok. I wouldn’t recommend this, if you have knee problems.
This castle offers some pretty unique views. If you walk up to the highest point of the rock and look back towards the castle, you’ll see two completely different landscapes:
To the left of the castle: a beautiful green valley between two sierras – sierra de la Ortijuela and sierra del Alcornocal. A stream called Garganta de Santa Lucía runs between the two.
To the right of the castle: wide open spaces dotted of holm oaks and olive trees, with hills in the background and, further to the west, the Trujillo plains. If you have binoculars with you, you will be able to spot the town of Trujillo (which is over 40km away in a straight line).
The observation deck, the ‘steps’, the rope handrails and the information panels along the way are pretty new. It was only in late 2019 that the works to make this castle accessible to the public took place, four years after the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara area was declared a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Distance: 42.1km from Guadalupe; 56.5km from Trujillo; 107km from Cáceres; 115km from Plasencia.
Free parking in the main square.