Jerez de los Caballeros and Fregenal de la Sierra – two lovely small towns, disregarding their long names, which we soon might have difficulties to remember. But that’s what this blog is for! As we are at the border region to Portugal and Andalusia, you find strong city walls and castles in every town.
The Moors were finally defeated in this area with the help of the Knights Templar and in 1283 Alfonso X gave Fregenal de la Sierra into their care, who immediately began building a castle. Under the Catholic kings Isabella I and Ferdinand II, the city was an important part of the border fortresses with Portugal.
Today, you reach the fortification of the Templars through the tourist information. Their castle was converted into a bullfight arena after its use for the defence was in the past.
The only open church was the one of the Jesuits, which seems to have a different use now, but was lovely restored.
A reservoir served as a good spot for a break and some lunch but also as a service point for the car.
The town of Jerez de los Caballeros is said to have been founded by Alfonso IX of Leon in 1229. It was extended by his son Ferdinand III the Saint, who gave it to the Knights Templar. Hence the name Jerez de los Caballeros, Jerez of the Knights.
The old town is surrounded by a Moorish wall with six gates. We entered through the Puerta de Burgos, coming from the very nice and free camper area the town provides.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475 – 1519) was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen the Pacific from the New World.
The highlight of the town were the beautiful church towers, especially of San Bartolomé, with its lovely decoration made of polychrome plaster, glazed clay and ceramics. A very special church!
Inside the castle we ran into a rap battle, where young guys were rapping in pairs about a chosen topic. We didn’t understand much, but it was entertaining to watch them for a while.
There are two more towns we want to visit, before we will leave the Extremadura. More on our next post!