Extremadura is located next to the border with Portugal. Its name comes from extrema, which is Spanish for “extreme”, and dura, which means “hard”. This has to do with its severe weather, which made it difficult to live in the region. Spain’s most famous Iberian ham or jamón is produced here, thanks to the wide meadows or dehesas, which are ideal both for the pigs and the acorns that they eat.

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A black Iberian pig eating acorns in a meadow or dehesa

We eat every part of the pork, even its walk

Popular Spanish saying

Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, in the town of Cáceres.

Extremadura is a region with a very interesting past that still houses many ancient remains. The Romans settled here to build the capital of the whole peninsula, Mérida, in the 2nd century B.C.E. Today, we can still visit the Roman Theater, and during summer nights it is used to represent classical plays in the open air.

Later on, the Muslims also settled in Extremadura, but, after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, which took place in 1212 and marked the beginning of a Christian alliance to expel the Moors, Extremadura was returned to the kingdom of Castile. After that, many palaces and monasteries, like the Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, were built in the area.

During the times of the Conquest of America, many conquerors, such as Cortés or Pizarro, came from this region. This is the reason why so many names in Latin America are originally from Extremadura, like the Virgin of Guadalupe. Moreover, the people from Extremadura were also the first Europeans to travel to the Grand Canyon, California, and other parts of the Southern USA. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “The ancient part of American history is written chiefly in Spanish”. At the end of the day, Spaniards were the first European explorers to cross the south of North America and to build villages and towns in the area: Los Angeles, Colorado or Arizona all have Spanish origins. In the case of the latter, it was named after the word árido, which means “arid”.

Nowadays, the TV series House of the Dragon has chosen Extremadura as the location for some of its fantastic scenes.

Remains of the Roman Theatre in Mérida, 1st century B.C.E.

If we had to choose one ingredient from Extremadura, it would definitely be Iberian ham or jamón, which is very typical in the region. The production of jamón in the area dates back centuries, so the inhabitants of Extremadura have created many dishes where it is the protagonist. One of the most important ones is croquetas de jamón, a small fried snack that has become an essential in every Spanish party and that is beloved by children and adults alike. Try croquetas de jamón at St. Vicent Spanish Cusine!

Trujillo, where House of the Dragon was filmed, although the statue was replaced by a dragon.