Medellín, the fortress of Guadiana

Sara Rodriguez Romo | Live the World

November 23, 2022

At the very heart of Extremadura (Spain), not far away from its capital Mérida, the visitor will find Medellín. It is known for being the place of birth of Hernán Cortés, the controverted conqueror of Mexico. Built on a hill at the bank of the great river Guadiana, Medellín’s castle can be spotted from afar. And yes, what you see at the side of the hill is indeed a Roman theatre! This picture is unique in the world. To top things, even more, five minutes away, you can find what the locals call “Costa Breva,” a natural swimming pool at the Guadiana River, perfect to cool down after all the visiting. 

© Flickr/A M Felicísimo

A bit of history

Medellín has a long history. Its strategic position made it very attractive to many civilizations: Iberians, Romans, Goths, and so on. All of them left their mark there. You can get to know more about them by visiting the museum at the church next to the theatre. A Greek calyx from the Vth century BCE, proof of the importance of the place, was found in this area. Nearby, the ruins of a temple from the mysterious Tartessian civilization has yet so many secrets to reveal. The Roman theatre itself was only recently unveiled. It is surprisingly well preserved. Nearby, the remainings of the Roman forum are also coming back to the surface slowly. And finally, the castle. Built on the ruins of a Moorish fortress, it has resisted many wars. In the XVth century, the lady of the manor locked her own son in prison for five years because he took the opposite side in the war. That was probably the inspiration for the famous play of Calderón de la Barca

© Flickr/A M Felicísimo

Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, was born in the XVth century in Medellín. The founder of Caracas was also born here. Actually, so many people fled to America in search of a better life, and as a result, many cities there are called 'Medellín.' The most important one is in Colombia.

© Wikipedia/Doalex

Back to the Spanish Medellín - when the situation in Extremadura finally calmed down in the XVIIth century, the locals established themselves in the plain, at the bottom of the hill. You can still visit a couple of beautiful churches dating back to this time. A new bridge was built, but peace did not last long. The French won such a big battle here that the name of this town is even inscribed at the Triumph Arch of Paris. While they were there, they destroyed and robbed a lot of artworks, so do not be amazed if you find the castle a bit empty inside!

© Wikimedia Commons/Antonio Barrena

Medellín’s natural swimming pool

Nevertheless, you can forget about wars and other unpleasant things by going to Medellín’s natural swimming pool: Costa Breva. The name is a joke - it sounds like the famous Costa Brava but slightly changed into “breva” - the extremadurian fig. You can go there by car or also a camping van if you own one. Go to the water, lie on the grass, have a beer at the chiringuito (bar), enjoy a siesta… Oh, it is good to be on holidays!

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