We were told that the small ancient town of Trujillo in Spain was so small that we didn’t need to stay a night there…that Cáceres, the nearby town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, was much prettier…I have no doubt that it is beautiful, yet I am so glad that we spontaneously stayed a night in Trujillo. In the words of my boyfriend, it’s not like anything I expected. The meandering narrow stone streets seemed to beckon us and we felt we could have joyfully wandered them for days. Our visit was the first time for both of us and it held special meaning since my boyfriend Eric has the last name of Trujillo and a heritage that dates back to Spain.
It’s not many people who have a town that shares the same last name as them, as my boyfriend does with the pre-Roman village of Trujillo. Similar to the majority of places in Spain, it is home to very precious, ancient history. Standing there, you feel as though the energy of its stories is still reverberating from its very trees and fields, walls and castles. Near sunset, we arrived and parked along one of the streets that leads up to the main plaza, down at the base of the hill. It was a short walk to reach the Plaza Mayor and as we entered through the stone arch entrance we brightened with appreciation of the delightful surprise.
Laid out before us was the open-air grandness of the stone floor spread out regally for hundreds of yards. The fountain in the very middle was modest by some standards, yet large and traditional. To either side of us began the tabernas (bars), restaurants and shops that are housed in the old buildings create the borders of the square, continuing along three sides of the plaza. Across from us and slightly to the right, in impressive introduction, was the cathedral of San Martin being guarded from behind by the castle that rests on the summit, overlooking the small village and vast countryside. Just in front of the church, towers the large statue of conquistador Francisco Pizarro astride a horse. He was one of many Trujillanos who explored the New World and discovered places in the Americas, Peru being the area that he is known for. I was surprised to learn that he even had a daughter with an Incan Princess and at 18 she came to Trujillo to marry her uncle and lived the rest of her life there as a lady of class and great wealth. What an interesting life her’s must have been for those times!
With hours of driving already spent that day and a few more still to go, and now in the dark, we decided to stay the night. That and we of course wanted to see more of Trujillo, especially its castle and old walled town that are further up on the hill, just past the Plaza Mayor. A hostel right in the plaza, La Cadena Hostal, was only 36 Euros a night for a double bed room. My mother and her boyfriend were traveling with us as well and we were happy with our rooms and grateful for the low price. Later in the evening, we discovered that the hotel was also one of the better restaurants there, popular for great local food for the traditional mid-day meal or late evening dinners. We only savored some wonderful local jamon (ham) later in the evening and at local shop there in the plaza since we were still satisfied from a delicious large lunch earlier that day in Avila.
After a good night’s sleep, we awoke the next morning to venture up-hill through the old walled town and eventually to the castle. It was a pristine day, with a clear blue sky and not a cloud in sight. For a January day, it was warm from the sun shinning bright and every now and then we were brushed by a soft coolness in the air from a vagrant breeze that would pick up. The entrance from the plaza into the old walled town is marked by a large stone arch that is part of the stone wall. Arriving there was uphill and it continued to be so all the way up, along ancient narrow streets and hillside inclines, till we arrived to the castle that is so perfectly situated at the very highest point of the large hill that constitutes as the town of Trujillo. Along the way we enjoyed opened vistas of the plaza and town below which spread out further to awe us with green pastures and distant hills and mountains in the far-off view.
The castle was only 2.50 Euros per person and touring it was self-guided. There was the main center which today is an open area of grass with a gorgeous Encina tree in one corner and the ability to tour the ancient water cisterns below ground (the old storehouses for water). To walk along the top ramparts we simply took the wide staircase in the center courtyard to the top of the castle wall. Walking the parameter of the castle, we enjoyed a 360-view of the beautiful countryside. On one side is a large bell in a stone arch that still hangs there and on the opposite wall in an enclosed glass window, is their patron saint, housed in the castle chapel that you can also enter and see as part of the self-tour.
A few other things of great interest to us were the following: First was that the castle had high towers and portions that were connected only by upper ramparts, or bridges. I had not seen these in as many castles that I have toured in Spain thus far, but they made sense to me based on pictures I have seen of medieval castles. Another were the large rocks that are standing up in a semi-circle in the grass out in front of the castle as you approach from the southern side. From up on high, you can see that it resembles the shape of a large sundial in the ground, but we didn’t learn what its particular purpose and significance was. Lastly, the other sites and monuments elsewhere in town were beautiful to walk around and see.
After seeing the castle, we made our way west, through another magically beautiful street with overhanging green vines and flowers, to a large courtyard where one of the churches is and the university building. We left this wonderful surprise of a town just after mid-day. Although we felt we could have happily wandered the streets and age-old buildings longer, we were grateful and excited for all that we had enjoyed in less than 24 hours and in such a spontaneous way. Trujillo is definitely a town that we will be back to visit again, to take more family to and as a place to enjoy with friends and make new friends in.
View my online album to enjoy more photos of our visit to Trujillo: “First Visit to Trujillo, Spain“.