Badajoz is not a city easily understood
Provincial capital and powerhouse of the Comunidad it works hard
Rewarded with many important institutions and fine architecture, its patrimony nevertheless, easily lost within tracts of mediocre housing and retail sheds

On the Ribera Guadiana, Badajoz is strategically important, officially the city is still disputed by Spain and Portugal and has a turbulent history: if you mention the Battle of Badajoz, it’s likely you’ll be asked, which one?

During the Peninsular Wars, Wellington with help from the Spanish and Portuguese, laid siege to the city captured by the French, and recaptured it
Near Elvas there’s a restored British cemetery
The other infamous battle occurred during the Civil War and here there is no cemetery
The Siege or Massacre of Badajoz was a bloodthirsty interlude in Spain’s modern history

Nevertheless the cities heritage is being preserved with interesting contemporary architecture, both commercial and institutional: Torre Caja Badajoz by Antonio Lamela, the Museo de Bellas Artes by Estudio Arquitectura Hago, Palacio de Congresos by José Selgas and Lucia Cano Laso

But a recent survey gauging tourism found many visitors are not aware of the cities virtues
It found a city typecast by its well known attractions: the Alcazar, cathedral and the Plaza Alta


The Alcazar walls link the Museo Arqueológico Provincial to the picturesque gardens to the south and give the best views of the city
The gardens are a Claude Lorrain painting; the seventeenth century landscape painter could not have composed the cypresses, bougainvillea and heroic castellated half-ruins in a better way

Outside the  city walls the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist of Badajoz was  vulnerable and expediently appears half pumped-up parish church and half castle: simple volumes, uncomplicated openings but where possible an impressive flourish of stone carving around the doors and windows
Strength and elegance; an interesting combination

The Plaza Alta  is dominated by the kaleidoscopic graphic red, grey and white facade of the Casas Coloradas
The plaza hosts the alternative Los Palomas festival and proves the traditional virtues of the Extremeños are not incompatible with broad-mindedness

They’re all of great interest but there’s no better place within Extremadura, than Badajoz, to discover contemporary architecture

photography and text by Tim Harris

This entry was published on May 22, 2017 at 8:30 pm. It’s filed under Architect, Architecture, Extremadura, Spain, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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