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Plasencia travel guide — Plasencia tourism and travel information

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about Plasencia

Plasencia is a walled market city in the province of Cáceres, in Western Spain. Population 36,690 (2001 census).

The coat of arms consists of a Castle flanked either side by a chestnut tree and a pine tree, a duchal crown on the crest and sorrounded with the motto: Ut Placeat Deo Et Hominibus (To Please God and Manhood). The flag has two horizontal Bands, Violet the top and Green the bottom.

Founded as a city in 1186 by King Alfonso VIII of Castile on the banks of the River Jerte as a city-fortress, with the double purpose of colonizing and guarding the then South Western border of the Kingdom, it fell briefly to the moors of Almanzor in 1196, being reconquered for good the year after. The city walls, which have stood since 1198, boasted seventy towers, eight gates and a huge Alcázar (Keep) in its highest, Northernmost point. Most of it remains except the Alcázar, which was demolished in 1941, to make way to a collection of particularly ugly blocks of flats. The focal point of the old city, however, was and, after more than eight hundred years, still is the market square (Plaza Mayor), where a weekly tax-free market has been in operation every Tuesday since the foundation of the City. The right to hold this market among other special rights and priviledges were granted by the King in its Fueros Fundacionales (Foundational Royal Charter).

In 1189, by request of Alfonso VIII, Plasencia was declared head of dioceses by Pope Clemente III and work on a Romanesque Cathedral started shortly after, concluding sometime on XIIIth Century, by which time fashion had changed and Gothic elements had been added in the forms of pointed archs to the Nave and a rose window to the main South Entrance, while the cloister, on the East side bordering the city walls, was enterely Gothic.

Quite not happy with the result, in XVth Century the Dioceses decided to build a grand Gothic Cathedral in the same site, demolishing the old cathedral as the new one was being built. Work started in 1498 and By XVIth Century, standard Renaissance elements had been added such as the East Entrance and the elaborate Choir Seating, while the local style of the period, Plateresco, is present in the West (main) and the Presbytery Entrances. Work continued until XVIIIth Century, when, with only the Sanctuary and the Transept of the New Cathedral finished, the project was abandoned leaving behind a somewhat odd result, as most of the Nave of the Old Cathedral, its cloister and its unique Octogonal Tower housing the Sala Capitular Chapel is still attached to the New Cathedral, while the new choir, that was supposed to stand along the New Nave, was positioned across the transept.

The city remained under direct Royal rule until John II of Castile gave it to the House of Zúñiga in 1442 abolishing its Fuero. This encountered the opposition of the local nobles and the general population at large and resulted in periodicals revolts throughout the second half of the XVth Century. In this hostile climate against the crown, in 1475 Plasencia played host to the wedding of 13-year-old Princess Joan La Betraneja, pretender to the throne of Castile and her ambitious uncle King Afonso V of Portugal. After La Beltraneja's cause was defeated in the Battle of Toro, Plasencia paid the penalty and the Castilian Crown capped the towers of the noble's palaces. The Fuero was eventually restored in 1488. The shortened Tower of the venue of the wedding, La Casa de Las Argollas, is still standing in Calle del Rey, just off Plaza Mayor.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Plasencia".

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