Badajoz is a city in Extremadura on the western border of Spain, looking across into Portugal. Its sprawling surrounds are industrial and residential, with a population of 151,565 in 2011, but the old city centre has many places worth seeing, such as its Moorish citadel Alcazaba. Badajoz is a good place to break a journey between Madrid and Lisbon.
Badajoz has been inhabited at least since 4000 BC; it was settled by Romans as Civitas Pacensis, then by the Visogoths. In the 8th century it was captured by the Moors, eventually becoming capital of their small kingdom or Taifa of Baṭalyaws. After the Christian reconquista, this area was disputed between Spain and Portugal, changing hands several times until a treaty of 1715 assigned it to Spain. Badajoz fell to Napoleonic forces during the Peninsular War, but in 1812 the future Duke of Wellington captured it after a costly siege, and began to roll back the French from across Spain. In 1936 the city was also an early victory for the Nationalists in the Civil War, whereupon they took some 4000 Republicans to the bullring and shot them.
Badajoz is industrial, with a large service sector, manufacturing of linen, woollen and leather goods, hats, pottery, and soap, and with cross-border trade with nearby Portugal. It has the typical climate of Extramadura, with hot dry summers (over 35 °C) and near-zero winter temperatures.
Trains from Madrid Atocha Cercanías lumber every 2-3 hours across Extramadura, taking 5 hours with over a dozen stops such as Talavera de la Reina. A couple are direct, otherwise you change at Merida. A high speed line is under construction which (perhaps from 2024) will reduce the journey to two hours. The grand plan was for this to extend to Lisbon but work on the line in Portugal has been cancelled. One train per day runs from Lisbon Oriente to Entroncamento where you change for the cross-border train to Badajoz, journey time just over 4 hours.
1 Badajoz railway station is 1 km north of the river. See below for local buses into town.
Avanza Bus runs 3 times a day from Madrid South station, taking 6 hours via Merida, for a fare (as of 2021) of around €35. Two buses continue west to Évora and Lisbon Oriente railway station, airport and Sete Rios bus and railway station, another four hours.
Buses also run four times a day from Caceres, taking 75 min.
2 Badajoz bus station is 1 km south of city centre.
Tubasa is the local bus company. Bus LC2 runs from city centre north to the railway station and the retail park next to the bypass. See their website for map and schedules of their 20-some city routes.
- 1 Alcazaba de Badajoz. This Moorish citadel was built in the 9th century, though what you see now is the 12th century Almohad fortifications. It's walled, with 8 towers: greatest of these is the 30 m Torre de Espantaperros - "scare-dogs tower", named for the effect of its bell on the dogs lazing in the plaza below. After the Almohads were ousted the citadel's mosque became the cathedral until St John's was built. The ducal palace La Galera has been city hall then a prison and now houses the Archaeological Museum, with finds from the Visigoth, Roman, and other periods. A large section of the citadel is occupied by Jardines de la Galera - the name indicated "gallows" as condemned prisoners were permitted to exercise here.
- Plaza Alta is the remarkable square just south of Alcazaba.
- 2 Puerta de Palmas is a ceremonial gateway to the city built in 1551. An ancient footbridge crosses the river to the north bank Parque de la Guadiana.
- Other parks and gardens include Castelar, which has a central pond and several monuments dedicated to the romanticist writer Carolina Coronado and to Luis Chamizo Trigueros; la Legión, Rivillas y Calamón, San Fernando, and La Viña.
- 3 Museo de Bellas Artes de Badajoz (MUBA), Calle Duque de San German 3. Tu-F 10:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00, Sa Su 10:00-14:00. Large gallery in two 19th-century mansions with lots of big names represented: Zurbarán, Luis de Morales, Caravaggio, Goya, Picasso, Dalí and more. Free.
- La Giralda next to MUBA is a copy of the Giralda in Seville, built in 1930 and nowadays office accommodation.
- 4 Catedral de San Juan Bautista (Cathedral of St John the Baptist), Plaza España. Museum Tu-Sa 10:30-14:00, 18:15-21:00. Fortress-like cathedral built in the 13th century and much modified in later centuries. It contains a museum of religious artwork and artefacts.
- 5 Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo (MEIAC) (Ibero-American Museum of Contemporary Art), Calle Museo, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00, 17:30-20:00; Su 10:00-14:00. Large collection of contemporary art by Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American artists. The building stands on the site of a former Detention Centre. Free.
- 6 , Plaza de la Libertad, ☏ . Tu-F 09:00-14:30, 17:30-19:30, Sa Su 10:00-14:00. Fun interactive museum with costumes and other effects from the city carnival.
- 7 Fuerte de San Cristóbal is a Vauban-style fort north of the river, built during the 17th century wars with Portugal. It's open Sa Su 10:00-14:00.
- Teatro Lopez de Ayala on Plaza Minayo is the city's main performing arts venue.
- Baños Baraka are Moorish baths on Plaza Soledad.
- AquaBadajoz is a water amusement park at the west edge of the city, near the junction of A5 and BA20.
- Football: CD Badajoz play soccer in Primera División RFEF, the game's third tier; they were re-founded in 2012 after the original club went bust. The other local club AD Cerro de Reyes has folded.
- Feria de San Juan, the Festival of St John, is held over a week in June. The next is probably 17-25 June 2022.
The main shopping street is Menacho, where most national and international chains, including Zara and Bershka, are located. There are also small boutiques.
The Centro Comercial Abierto Menacho is the largest outdoor shopping centre in Extremadura, and many Portuguese cross to visit.
You can buy food in many supermarkets. There is one in city centre, Eroski, which is in San Francisco square.
- Town centre south of the river has Papabuey, Casa Rosendo, Mesón El Chozo, and La Tasquita de Bere.
- South riverbank has Masumi Convento, La Mafia, and El Chiringuito del Parra.
- North bank places along Av Adolfo Díaz Ambrona are Lugaris, El Vivero and Miradore del Guadiana within NH Gran Hotel Casino Extremadura.
- D.O. Ribera del Guadiana is the local wine marque. Lots more wines or beer if that doesn't suit.
- 1 Hostal Niza I & II, Calle Arco Agüero 34, ☏ . Basic hostel, clean and comfy but rooms often smell of tobacco smoke. Niza I and II are facing across the street.
- 2 Sercotel Gran Hotel, Gomez de Solis, Parque de Castelar, ☏ . Efficient business hotel near city centre. Limited parking. B&B double £90.
- 3 Mercure Rio, Av Adolfo Díaz Ambrona 13, ☏ . Good value budget chain offering on north bank. The a/c struggles in hot weather. B&B double £60.
- Hotel Lisboa, Av Augusto Vázquez 2 (opposite Mercure), ☏ . Boxy hotel, decent value for the budget price. B&B double £60.
- 4 AC Hotel by Marriott, Av de Elvas, ☏ . Good mid-price chain hotel on north bank. B&B double £100.
As of July 2021, Badajoz has 4G from all Spanish carriers. 5G has not reached this area.
- Mérida the regional capital has extensive Roman ruins and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Cáceres has a remarkable mix of medieval, Roman, Moorish and Renaissance.
- Elvas is a historic fortified city just over the border in Portugal.