That Extremadura abounds in Roman sites is no secret. Mérida, Medellín, Cáceres or Alcántara are some of the destinations to visit if you’re interested in Roman history and architecture. However, they are many other Roman sites scattered throughout the region that are worth knowing about before your trip.
Today, I’m sharing a small hidden site of Roman origins to that list. It’s one of those places located off the main road that aren’t exactly easy to spot or stumble upon. (Check the practical info section at the end of the article to see the exact coordinates.)
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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:
Hijovejo is an architectural ensemble situated some 5 km outside Quintana de la Serena (on the BA-113 road towards Valle de la Serena), in Badajoz province. Our idea was to pop by the Visitor Centre in Quintana and get some information and a brochure. The centre normally opens until 2pm but we went just after 1pm on a Saturday and it was closed. No sign on the door or anything, so we walked back to the car and drove there.
The site was built by the Romans in the 1st century BC over a flat terrain full of the granite rocks this area is famous for, and had military purposes – it’s said the construction of several buildings of this type was part of the Romans’ control strategy over an area of great mining relevance that serves as a gateway to the River Guadiana valley. After a big fire, the building was re-built and extended, having several rooms, a small tower and stairs leading to an underground well. It must have been quite a hard task to build the well bearing in mind they must had had to dig through the granite rocks the site was built on to reach the water.
As it happens with many other archaeological sites in Extremadura, Hijovejo is free to visit and you can roam around as you please. We found the gate open, and the parking empty. There was nobody on site. I wonder whether someone needs to go there every evening from Quintana to close the gate.
Although not a travel destination by itself, Hijovejo can be a good quick stop, if you’re exploring the area by car. We went there from my hometown of Don Benito on the EX-346 to Quintana and we decided to go back on the EX-345. The journey back turned out to be a very pleasant drive. I can’t recall seeing any cars, and there are no towns in over 33 km, only countryside and rewarding views that make you feel you’re lost in the middle of nowhere.
|Coordinates: Latitude: 38.723117 | Longitude: -5.714757
Nearest town: Quintana de la Serena
Distance: 85 km from Mérida; 103 km from Trujillo; 121 km from Cáceres.
Visitor centre: Costanilla, 8 (2nd floor), Quintana de la Serena. Opening times: Mon 10am-2pm; Tue-Sat 10am-2 pm.
Hijovejo on a map
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