Feature: Natural Extremadura

The crown jewel in Extremadura's natural spaces is the Parque Nacional de Monfragüe. The Ruta de Isabel la Católica, the Vía de la Plata and the Camino Real de Guadalupe all have sacred roots. Other fine walking trails include the Ruta de los Pilones, the Ruta de Carlos V, the Ruta del Emperador and the numerous routes through the Geoparque Villuercas Ibores Jara.

Feature: Vía de la Plata

The name of this ancient highway (Ruta de la Plata) probably derives not from the Spanish word for 'silver' (plata), but the Arabic bilath, meaning tiled or paved. But it was the Romans in the 1st century who laid this artery that originally linked Mérida with Astorga and was later extended from Seville to Gijón (on the Asturian coast). Goods, troops, travellers and traders moved along its length. Later, it served as a pilgrim route for the faithful walking from Andalucía to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia); it's an alternative to the much more crowded Camino de Santiago. From Seville, it's about an 800km walk or cycle to Santiago or a similar distance to Gijón. Entering Extremadura south of Zafra, the well-marked route passes through Mérida, Cáceres and Plasencia, then heads for Salamanca (Castilla y León). The modern-day A66 and N630 roughly follow its course. Check out www.rutadelaplata.com.