Malpartida de Cáceres is a natural monument of stunning beauty, a Game of Thrones filming location, home to Vostell’s museum of modern art and Europe’s capital of storks… Definitely a place to visit!
Article by Victoria Wood
Malpartida de Cáceres is a deeply interesting village located just 11km west of the World Heritage city of Cáceres. Its extensive historical value reaches back to the Palaeolithic era between 150,000-200,000 years ago with old archaeological sites situated in the area of Vendimia and Regato del Lugar.
You will find Neolithic settlements in Canchal Carrasco and El Corchao from the inhabitants that settled here around 3,000 BC. In one of the settlements, named Peñas del Tesoro, there are approximately fifty areas of engravings and paintings dotted around the area. There are also Roman ruins such as the Roman Villa of Los Barruecos, as well as anthropomorphic tombs and the remains of Muslim and late medieval constructions. You’ll note the illusory terrain in the middle of Penillanura Cacareña to be the site of one of Malpartida de Cácares’ main attractions. The result of the disintegration of granite rocks has produced some incredible, natural formations of large rocks rising up at the edge of four historic water reservoirs.
This geological park is of huge scientific interest due to the complete catalogue of erosive forms in the granite which have created impossible hollows within the rocks, all spread out over a vast landscape providing an ‘other-worldly’ sight. So much so that HBO, the makers of Game of Thrones, elected the natural monument of Los Barruecos as a filming location for the blockbuster TV series.
The result: 24 minutes of action broadcasted in the summer of 2017, for the 7th Season during the 4th and 5th episode. The massive battle takes place when the Lannister and Tarly army are ambushed by the Dothraki horde. The famous scene with the dragon being ridden by Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi), was also filmed right here. You can find panels sited at the Game of Thrones location, displaying information about the main scenes showing where they were filmed.
Humans, from ancient times, took advantage of Malpartida’s landscape, giving us numerous samples of rock paintings and carvings and other archaeological sites from different periods. The granite rock has water-retaining properties and so the abundant wells and ponds become water reserves, maintained even during hot periods and drought. This gives way to the plenitude of flora and fauna inhabiting the area and one of its most famous attributes, a big population of storks, thanks to which Malpartida de Cáceres is known as the home and “capital” of the European stork.
This emblematic bird, a symbol of good luck and fertility, is present in the region of Malpartida de Cácares in three colonies; an urban colony in the village near the main church, in the stork ‘wetland’, where they nest on poles, which serves as a breeding ground for waterfowl, and also within Los Barruecos using the huge rocks as their homes.
Birdwatching, trekking, and other activities organised by the Information Center of Los Barruecos make this an open space to enjoy for all ages and interests. Los Barruecos was named a Natural Monument in 1996 and boasts three government issued buildings in the form of the Interpretation Centre, the Water Interpretation Centre, and the Visitor’s Centre with a room dedicated to the White Storks of Malpartida.
In this unique landscape, dominated by water and rocks, the Vostell Malpartida Museum was created, taking advantage of the facilities of an eighteenth-century wool laundry by German artist Wolf Vostell. He created a unique unity between art and nature in this epic museum. The converted building is now named a place of cultural interest. Collections include the works of Wolf and Mercedes Vostell, Fluxus Gino di Maggio and a conceptual arts collection. The Vostell Malpartida Museum continues in the landscape of Los Barruecos with sculptures; installations peppered amongst the huge granite rocks.
There is also the unmissable Narbón Museum. Today it is one of the most important museums in the region, receiving the Gold Medal of Merit for Fine Arts in 2018. The museum, housed in a 19th century farmhouse, exhibits numerous works of art. Consisting of 12 rooms, structured chronologically, there is an established continuity through the painter’s career as we are shown his artistic evolution. On the first floor you can see works of his early stages where academic influence is apparent, and then the subsequent discovery of the European avant-garde of the sixties are evident: constructivism, informalism, abstract art. On the second floor are collected works made from the 80’s to his most recent creations. Featuring paintings of great schematism, intense symbolism and abstraction.
The name literally meaning ‘Best Corner of Spain’, Malpartida de Cácares is also home to a quaint and serene old town. Here you can wander the cobbled streets, visit the many civil and religious buildings: “Santa Ana” Arcs, “Topete” Palace, the Inquisition House, chapels such as the 16th century Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption with its magnificent Renaissance façade, cross vaults, a Rococo style altarpiece, and the image of Nazarene, by the sculptor José Salvador Carmona.
The local gastronomy is centred around the ‘patatera’ – a typical type of sausage from Cáceres made from Iberian pork cheek and boiled potatoes, seasoned with salt and La Vera paprika, garlic and spices and cured in a drying room; the local speciality, are all worthy of note.
In fact, there is a festival dedicated to the famous sausage, The Great Feast of “Pedida de la Patatera” that takes place on Carnival Tuesday, attracting hundreds of visitors. During the whole carnival week, you can enjoy street markets, music, traditional dances, gastronomic events all centred around the traditional sausage named “Patatera”.
If you happen upon Malpartida de Cácares in the summer months you’ll be greeted by an abundance of multi-coloured umbrellas all hanging side by side to provide some well-needed shaded areas in the main square, or Plaza de los Colores as it is affectionately known. Here, colourful happenings are held during peak season such as ‘colour dining experiences’, music and dance shows and other gastronomic events.
Find out more about Malpartida de Cácares and its main points of interest here.