In the province of Cáceres is the picturesque village of Romangordo, with less than 300 inhabitants. However, if someone were to say that it is one of the towns where more art per square metre is gathered, they would be right. Perhaps this is not understood if one does not know the reason why Romangordo, in the region of Campo Arañuelo, is such a curious town, and that is that the town is a museum in itself, full of hand-painted murals. Many of them play with the optical illusion of the visitor, creating the most singular trompe l’oeil.
The history of Romangordo began with the ancient Makhada Albalat, a prominent Arab settlement that was fortified in the 10th century and later named one of the most important towns in the area in the 12th century. At that time, due to its strategic value, it was a cause of dispute between the Arab and Christian troops. However, in the conquest carried out by Alfonso VIII it no longer had this value, as the border was far away.
Under Christian rule, the settlement ended up being a simple rural village around which an administrative organisation called Campana de Albalat was developed. Thus, it established a kind of local territorial entity in which different localities are clustered in the same territory: Romangordo, Higuera de Albalat and Casas del Puerto, as well as other towns that would end up unpopulated as La Piñuela.
Later, in the first half of the 19th century, the Campana de Albalat ended up forming the three current municipalities of Romangordo, Higuera de Albalat and Casas de Miravete. Nowadays, Romangordo is one of the “Villages Biosphere Reserve of the National Park of Monfragüe“.
Route of the Trompe l’oeil
The essence of Romangordo is captured in every corner thanks to the murals, the paintings on the doors and phrases arranged in every corner of the village. Thus, in the Route of the Trompe l’oeil carried out while walking calmly through the village, daily scenes of long ago are discovered, thanks to the murals what the buildings were dedicated to in the past, the popular jobs that in their day raised the town… Even optical illusions that make us see a street where in reality there is a wall or an old tower.
Thus, since 2016 different artists from Extremadura and students from the School of Fine Arts in Madrid have created many of the works that can be seen today in Romangordo. An artistic memory of the traditions that have formed the identity of the town. As for the paintings, they can be divided into three types: murals, doors and phrases. Although it is true that they can be discovered walking aimlessly through the village, in order not to miss any of the works the most convenient thing to do is to get a map of the Route of the Trompe l’oeil in the Tourist Office, located in the Casa de los Aromas.
In this way, it seems that every corner of Romangordo takes on a life of its own: from the garage doors, through the most vindictive murals such as the mural against gender violence or against depopulation, to the one that shows popular games or the old school.
Although most of these works of art are located in the urban area of Romangordo, some are located in the outskirts. This is the case of the murals that pay homage to the elderly, located in the residence for the elderly. The realism with which these murals have been done, as well as the rest, stands out as another achievement, so it is not surprising that to decorate a facade requires between seven and ten days.
Ecomuseum Casa del Tio Cáscoles
The streets of Romangordo still show traces of its traditional architecture, with houses made of stone, rockrose, sand, lime, wood... becoming the characteristic elements of Romangordo houses. However, nowadays there are few houses built with these materials, even if they try to be inspired by the old houses.
To understand what the houses of the past were like you have to visit the Ecomuseum Casa del tío Cáscoles. It was formerly a private house that belonged to Uncle Lazarus and Aunt Juliana, popularly known in Romangordo as Cáscoles. Although the size of the rooms is smaller than in other houses in the village, it is an example of the spaces that were dedicated in the local houses. This is a journey through the memory of the village in which you can discover the popular architecture and scenery that shows the original function of the rooms.
Route of Los Ingleses (The English)
The “Ruta de los Ingleses” is another of the curiosities that we will find in Romangordo. This historical route arose with the objective of giving visibility to the battle of the War of Independence that took place on May 19, 1812, date in which the French suffered the defeat at the hands of the English troops in Lugar Nuevo, that is, in the municipal district of Romangordo. Thus, the route commemorates this date through a hiking route, taking place on the Saturday closest to May 19.
Next to the town hall of Casas de Miravete, this route is celebrated with several historical recreations of the battle. Consequently, it is entirely set thanks to the narratives and representations made by different characters characterized by the time.
The Ruta de los Ingleses is 16 kilometres long and runs through the Sierra de Miravete and the surrounding area of Monfragüe, finding areas of outstanding beauty for hikers. It is the last stretch carried out by the 3,500 soldiers who were commanded by General Hill. A route that goes from the southern slope of the Sierra de Miravete to the Fort of Napoleon in Lugar Nuevo, passing through the col de los Ingleses and Romangordo. This battle lasted less than an hour and ended with the capture of the Fort of Napoleon and the consequent destruction of the facilities that the French had erected.
Casa de los Aromas is a cultural complex located in a small garden near Romangordo. The land is divided into cultivation areas and several buildings with different rooms. In this space you can discover some of the most representative species of the town, while in the visitors’ room you can learn about the peculiarities and characteristics of the flora of Romangordo and its region.
The enclosure also has a workshop of essences in which aromatic plants are distilled, natural creams and ecological soaps are made… All this thanks to Romangordo’s flora, which is very rich thanks to the different types of soil, the Garganta de La Canaleja, the Tajo riverbed and the Corrinches, Arrocampo and Arrogato streams.
The cave of La Canaleja is an archaeological complex of great value that is composed of several caves located on the gorge of La Canaleja. This karstic complex is open on a limestone cliff that goes down to more than 20 meters inside. A gallery that can easily go unnoticed as a result of the camouflage provided by the vegetation: a forest of elderberries and almonds. After searching the largest cavity between 2004 and 2005, it was confirmed that the cave was inhabited, as ceramic remains with printed decoration typical of the Neolithic period in Extremadura were found there.
The parish church of Romangordo is under the patronage of Santa Catalina and has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. It is a 15th century building built in three stages, as can be seen in the southern façade by the lines of the gabled roofs in the main nave. The construction was carried out on the basis of mamposts, reinforced on the covers and corners by granite ashlars. As far as brick is concerned, it was only used to create the threads of some arches in the bell tower.
The exterior appearance of the church is modest. It has three doorways with moulded semicircular arches. The bell tower has a single body and is 16 metres high. The finish is simple, as it has a pyramidal shape.
As far as the interior of the church is concerned, the Mudejar coffered ceiling is one of the best in Extremadura. There are also several images that are in the church, emphasizing on all of them the Santa Catalina, patron saint of the temple, the Nuestra Señora del Rosario, San Blas and the Cristo de la Salud. The history surrounding the image of San Blas is striking, as it was once said that it cures “throat ailments”.