Extremadura is situated in the east of Spain bordering Portugal. Its Spanish neighbours are Castile-Leon in the north, Castile-La Mancha in the west, and Andalusia in the south. It has two provinces: Cáceres and Badajoz (its capital city is Mérida, located in Badajoz).
Extremadura covers an area of 41,600 km² (approximately 8% of Spain’s total). The 5th largest region in Spain, it is bigger than Holland, Belgium or Denmark.
This region is made up of expansive plains, averaging a height of 350 metres. Extremadura also has three mountain systems in its territory: the Sistema Central, the Sierra Morena and a mountainous area in the centre.
The Sistema Central comprises the following mountains:
- La Sierra de Gredos
- La Sierra de Gata
- La Sierra de Francia
- La Sierra de Guadalupe
- La Sierra de Plasencia
- and La Sierra de Vera.
The Sistema Central has high mountain passes (some of its peaks reach around 2,000 metres), and deep gorges that head off to the south. The Sierra Morena mountain range in the south is the lowest of the region: its highest peak is Tentudia, which reaches some 1,100 metres. Finally, the centre of the region is pierced by the Toledo Mountains (los Montes de Toledo), the highest peak being Las Villuercas at 1,600 metres.
Extremadura’s landscape is also characterised by the following river valleys:
- La Vera
- Las Hurdes
Extremadura and Spain
There are two major rivers flowing through the region, filtering the waters from other smaller rivers: the Tajo and the Guadiana. The Tajo flows through Cáceres on its way to Portugal, through which it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. The Guadiana, one of the longest rivers in the Iberian Peninsula (la Península Ibérica), circles Badajoz province as it heads south to form part of the Spanish/Portuguese border. It then passes through Portugal on its way to the Gulf of Cadiz.
Although Extremadura is not Spain’s major tourist destination (it is the poorest region of Spain), there are reasons that warrant a visit. It has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. There are many places of interest to visit: Mérida has fine examples of Roman architecture (a huge theatre, an amphitheatre, two aquaducts and a bridge; the city of Cáceres has beautiful old quarter and is enclosed by Moorish walls; and Badajoz is famous for its Moorish Alcazaba.
Extremadura is an important wildlife area. The Parque Natural Monfragüe, situated north of Trujillo in the Cáceres province, provides a protected habitat for many animal species such as the Iberian Lynx, and Europe’s largest bird, the Eurasian Black Vulture.