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La Historia

La Historia de Trujillo se ha construido en un amplio territorio en el que esta ciudad se erigió como núcleo principal y centro rector. Fue a partir de la ocupación musulmana, cuando su carácter defensivo se hizo más patente. Territorio cristiano desde 1232, la ciudad pasará a depender directamente de la Corona englobándose en la diócesis placentina. Es entonces cuando se define el amplio territorio sobre el que Trujillo ejercerá su jurisdicción; siglos después, las dificultades económicas de la Corona irán reduciendo su amplísimo alfoz. 

El crecimiento del arrabal en torno a la iglesia de San Martín marca el principio de un basculamiento del peso económico e institucional desde la villa amurallada a la plaza llamada entonces del arrabal. En 1430 Juan II concede a Trujillo el título de ciudad y en 1465 Enrique IV le otorga el mercado franco de los jueves. Su gobierno aparece controlado desde la reconquista por diversas familias que se organizan en torno a tres linajes: Altamirano, Bejarano y Añasco. Esta división acaba organizando la totalidad de la sociedad medieval, integrando en ella a los miembros de las dos minorías religiosas presentes en la ciudad, judíos y musulmanes. 

Numerosos trujillanos contribuirán a que la historia de la exploración, de la conquista y la colonización de América estuviera unida para siempre a esta ciudad. Tras un siglo XVI de crecimiento y dinamismo, los siglos siguientes suponen para Trujillo el comienzo de una larga crisis urbana y económica. Durante la Guerra de la Independencia la ciudad es invadida y arrasada y aunque el proceso de reconstrucción se alargaría a lo largo del XIX, algunas de sus heridas persistirían hasta bien entrado el siglo XX. Con la recuperación de la democracia y el desarrollo del Estado Autonómico, Trujillo ha encontrado nuevos referentes en un mapa regional cambiante en cuanto a centros de decisión y en un mapa económico regional y local igualmente

    Rocío Sánchez Rubio
Doctora en Historia

   Mª Ángeles Sánchez Rubio
Doctora en Historia

Copyright © 

Fotos Chuty


The city of Trujillo is located to 50 kms to the East of the capital province, on a granite rock "batholith" and on the old road to Madrid.

It is an urban complex developed over time, whose testimony has made of Trujillo one of the most important cities in the world.

Trujillo comes from the Celtic root Turaca.

The different epigraphic and funerary testimonies are good proof that the prerromanicTurgalium (Trujillo) became (during the roman occupation) a city of great importance for Emérita Augusta. (Mérida).

After the paleochristian and visigothic age, just a few remains were left.

Then, the moorish invasion took place, changing the name of Trujillo for Taryala keeping the city as an important market point for livestock activity in the Main Square.

At the end of the IX th century the construction of the castle began and the walls that surrounded the citadel were modified slightly after the reconquest.

Some documents show the existence of two mosques, a water tank and three cisterns; two of them located in the Castle and the third one in Altamiranos Square.

The final conquest of the citadel was in 1232 by the Christian troops of the king Fernando III.

According to the legend, the Virgin appeared above the walls, giving the christians the victory. From this moment, She became the patron saint of all the citizens of Trujillo; She also appears in the coat of arms of the city.

Then, Trujillo entered a prosperous time receiving several privileges and other incentives from the kings of that time.

The king Alfonso X decided to give "Fuero" (Law, privileges…) to the citadel. From this moment, the city was divided into noble families who didn´t have to pay taxes and "pecheros" who did.

Until the XIV th century the only architectural developments made in Trujillo were within the walls. In "La Villa", however the city expanded outside the walls little by little.

In 1430, the king Juan II of Castilia gave the city of Trujillo the title of "Noble and Loyal" and Enrique IV the privilege of a market in 1465.

The Catholic Kings, who lived here for a long time, were also very protective towards this village. Even the King Felipe IV let the town make its own coin.

The most important architectural activity took place at the end of the XVI th century and the beginning of the XVII th century. When the convents of Saint Miguel, la Encarnación and Saint Francisco were founded, other local and private houses were created too.

The XVI th century was vital for the history of Trujillo because of its important participation in the discovery and civilization of America.

The reach of religion gave the city an aura of magnificence in the XVIII th century.

Towers, pointed arches, military and gothic elements disappeared from the palaces inside the walls; instead, patios provided a different structure.

During the XVII th century and after the final ecclesiastical works began in the XVI thcentury; the city of Trujillo fell into a period of architectural inactivity, made worse because of Portugal campaign.

After the war events in the XIX th century, Trujillo began again an urban and constructive activity of great importance. Today it is a well-known city because of the quality of its tourism.

The XVI th century gave Trujillo the chance to enter the history of the discovery of the American continent including the men who took part in the adventure:

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers, Juan, Gonzalo and Hernando conquerors of Perú and founders of the city of the Kings (Lima), San Miguel de Piura, Trujillo and Arequipa. Alonso Briceño,( one of the thirteen conquerors), Alonso de Sotomayor, Fco. deOrellana who discovered de Amazones River, Fco. delas Casas, Fray Jerónimo de Loaysa, and Carvajal, Bishop of Cartagena de Indias and founder of the first University in Perú. María Escobar, the first woman who took the wheat to Perú. Diego García de Paredes, (son of the "SansonExtremeño"), was a captain who took part in the conquest of Perú and Chile; Fco. Becerra, Jerónimo Hernández, Alonso Pablos and Martín Casillas, were the best architects that went to America.

The name of Trujillo can be found in several cities in Venezuela, Perú, Puerto Rico, Chile and Colombia.

Around the Main Square we can find examples of the noble architecture of the city. The Square was the first urban business point with market and churches surrounded by palaces. Its construction dates from the 18th May in 1353.

The final development of the Main Square occurred during the XVI th century. Later, in the XIX th century there were some changes in the structures of the façades.

The equestrian statue of Fco. Pizarro is a work of the NorthAmerican Charles Rumsey.

It is made of bronze and it weighs 6.500 kg.

Opposite, we can find the palace of the Marquise of the Conquest, built under the orders of Fco. Pizarro´s brother, called Hernando. It is plateresque in style, with four floors and on the top, there are twelve decorative images representing allegories.

On the corner, the coat of arms of the family stands out, distinguishing the busts of Fco. Pizarro and his wife Inés Huailas, Hernando Pizarro and Francisca Pizarro Yupanqui.

In the interior, there are three rooms decorated with vegetation, exotic animals, geometrical images and so on. As a whole, 126 decorative elements are divided between two rooms in which we can also appreciate the Sun, The Monkey, the Eagle, the Moon, the Thunder and the Lightning. All of them belong to the Inca mythology.

The planning of the Main Square is rather irregular; the palaces and houses around it are supported by arches preserving their original and medieval names because they became markets.

One example is the Palace of the Marquises of Piedras Albas; It is of renaissance style from the XVI th century and it was built under the arches where bread was sold.

Nowadays it retains the name of "bread porch". The palace was constructed by Pedro Suárez de Toledo.

The first floor has a loggia of three arches of Florentine influence and a beautiful gothic crenellation on the top. It is all made of granite. These architectural examples were taken to America by famous stone-masons such as: Diego de Nodera, Alonso Casillas and Francisco Becerra.

On the other corner, we can find the Church of Saint Martin. Accessed via two doors, a renaissance door showing the arms of the city and a gothic portal called "the door of the limes", where the City Council used to gather.

The church has two towers: a campanile and a tiled clock tower. It has a single nave with crossing vaulting, and chapels enclosed in iron grille- work. The Romanesque image of the Virgin La Coronada of the XIII thcentury and the fine baroque organ can be seen within.

Opposite to it, we can visit the Palace of the Dukes of San Carlos from the XVI thcentury; The façade and corner balcony show the coat of arms of the Vargas Carvajal family. Inside there is a columned patio and a large vaulted staircase. Nowadays it is a Jeromian convent.

The house of the Royal Weight of Chaves Cárdenas is just on the other corner, next to the palace of the Conquest and the Royal Prison.

This was the ancient wheat weighing building, with twisted solomonic columns capped with gothic pinnacles.

It also has gothic Isabelline windows and balcony with graceful corbels. At the top of the Main Square, we can see the Pin Tower, from the XV thcentury. It is medieval and its crenellations are gothic. It has a loped tower followed by the House of the Chain, which symbolizes the right of asylum.

Fugitives were immune from the law, crossing the threshold with the coat of arms of Chaves and Orellana.

Next to this building, we can observe the House of the Royal Weight with the solomonic columns above described. Then, we pass through the medieval "Cañón de la Cárcel" (the prison vaulting). Above it, the Council built noble houses during the XVI thcentury. Next to them, the prison and the Archive could be found.

The prison was constructed in 1549 by the architect Sancho de Cabrera. In the end of the XVI th century the old Town Hall was built. It is written about on a stone referring to the Monarch Carlos I in 1551.

Going upstairs to the ancient city by Ballesteros Street, we can find the Palace of the Marquises of Santa Marta from the XVI thcentury. It is a work of Fco. Becerra, with a Renaissance gate and Ionic columns with a panelled frieze with diamond points between flames .The coat of arms is in the tympanum. It was the house of Hernán Cortés' grandchildren.

The city had seven doors, nowadays just five remain, the one of La Coria, the gate of El Triunfo, La Vera Cruz, Santiago, San Andrés and Las Palomitas, the last one was restored in 1998.

Just at the entrance of the ancient city, we can find one of the most impressive fortresses, the one of Luis ChavesThe Elder. It has two façades; the first one is gothic with ogee arch windows; Isabelline spheres on the cornice and the coat of arms of Chaves family, showing five keys; the second façade contains the main doorway and artistic grillwork. Over the windows, are three defensive towers. The palace was once the residence of the Catholic Monarchs in the XV thcentury.

Going up to the Castle, we find Santiago´s Church from the XIII th century; It is romanesque and it was restored in the XVII th century.

It contains the burial vaults of the Tapia family; their shield shows six crow heads and a five star coat of arms belonging to Paredes family.

In one of the chapels, the fine gothic image of the Christ of water can be appreciated. The City Council used to gather in this church in the Middle Ages. The bells of the church tower once marked the curfew and the gates of the town were closed.

Finally we reach the Castle, constructed by the Moors in the X thcentury over Roman ruins. The main gate is set in a horseshoe arch.

Inside, there is a cistern and a subterranean exit. The royal treasure was once stored in this castle and it was also a hideaway for Juana la Beltraneja. A splendid panorama can be seen from the battlement parapet. One of the towers contains the hermitage of the Virgin of the Victory, patron saint of Trujillo.

In the surroundings of the ancient city of Trujillo, one of the most important inside walls house is placed: The renaissance palace of the family Pizarro Hinojosa, Marquises of Lorenzana. It was destroyed by the French invasion in 1809 and it has been rebuilt to become the Royal Art Academy of Extremadura. Opposite, we can find the palace of Fco. Pizarro de Vargas. There, Gonzalo Pizarro "El Largo" father of the conqueror, Fco. Pizarro, was born. It was rebuilt in 1992 to become a museum of the famous conqueror. It is divided into two parts: downstairs we can see a medieval XVth century house and upstairs a large exposition about Pizarro´s life. The church of Santa María is placed in Santa María Square where the bronze bust of Fco. deOrellana can be seen; he discovered the Amazones river. The church was begun in 1232 after the final conquest of the city and it was finished in the XVIII thcentury. It was constructed on the top of a Moorish mosque, with one romanesque tower, rebuilt in the 1970´s, because of the earthquakes that the city of Lisbon suffered in 1521 and 1755. The inside is gothic, with cross vaulting, triple lancet windows and a plateresque choir; We can also find the funerary chapels of Vargas, García de Paredes( Extremadura´s Samson) and other noble families.


The Hispanic-Flemish altarpiece was painted by Fernando Gallego, it has 25 oil paintings on panel in well-preserved colours.

The church is near the convent of Saint Fco. El Real or La Coria, known because of its proximity to the medieval gate, which drives to the town of Coria (near Cáceres).

It was once a convent of Franciscan nuns until 1809 when they left because of the invasion of Napoleonic troops.

It conserves remains of a gothic temple and cloister. Today it holds a didactic museum about the conquest of America.

On Palomas Street, it is placed the house where Fco. Orellana was born; followed by the manor house of Chaves- Calderón, which has a balcony and a corner door.

Opposite, we find the house of Rol-Zárate and Zúñiga family next to the Hinojosa Calderón house and the home of Alvarados, all these houses had noble coat of arms, and were inhabited by knights and noblemen.

The walls favoured a kind of noble construction, linking to the houses powerful towers to get defended.

During spring time, they are the refuge of dozens of storks.

The fortress of Bejarano can also be visited, with a segmental arch portal displaying their coat of arms (rampant lion with a dragon´s head in each corner). It has two towers with varied style windows from different periods.

Inside the walls, two Moorish examples of conserving water are kept. One of them is the Cistern, originally Roman and later used by the Moors. It served as public baths, a reservoir for water irrigation and for cattle. The cistern is 11 metres deep.

The second example is the Moorish well, placed in the small square of Altamirano.

It dates from the VIII th century. It comprises three naves with six arches supported by pillars. Rain water used to be stored here.

Saint Andrew´s gate was one of the seven gates to enter the old city. It was defended by the fortress home of the Escobar family.

It bears the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs, showing an opening lancet arch, fortified with battlements.

It also has a rectangular tower dating from the end of the XV thcentury.

The fortress dates from the XV th century too. The windows with grilles and the cornice were added in the XVI thcentury.

This was the home of María Escobar, the first woman who took the wheat to Perú and Fray Diego de Chaves, confessor of the king Felipe II.

Finally, we arrive at the palace of Juan Pizarro de Orellana, work of Alonso and Fco. Becerra. It was constructed in the XVI th century. Today it houses a convent of nuns from the order of "Hijas de la Virgen de los Dolores".

The portal lies under a balustrade gallery bearing the coat of arms of the two families. Inside there is a beautiful plateresque columned patio from which a spiral staircase can be seen.

Miguel de Cervantes, the famous novelist of "the Quixote" also lived there for a time and he refers to the family and the city in the chapters IV and VI of his play "Trabajos de Persiles y Segismunda".

Again, the tourist reaches the Main Square through El Cañón de la Cárcel. (the prison vaulting).

There are many festivals in Trujillo. The biggest one is "El Chíviri" on Easter Sunday. People dance and sing dressed in their regional costumes all around the Main Square.

Another traditional festival is held on the 15 th of August "La Asunción" and it takes place around the church of Santa María la Mayor.

The celebrations in honour of our patron saint the Virgin of the Victory, are held between August and September and include music, dance, opera and theatre, which are performed in the patio of the castle. Finally, all the inhabitants of the city gather in the Main Square on the first Saturday of September to sing the hymn to the Virgin.


The commercial and cattle activity of Trujillo has its origin in the Islamic population.

The most important economical activity in Trujillo is its livestock. This is due to the favourable characteristics of the land; rocks are not good for agricultural activity but suitable for cattle. Its climate of late autumns, low temperatures and quite hot summers cause an extreme dryness.


The first market in Trujillo took place inside the walls in Descalzos Square. Later, with the construction of Saint Andrew ´s parish, the space for the market was limited and it was decided to relocate the market to the Main Square.

Palaces from the XVI thcentury and of great artistic importance were built above the arches and joined the commercial and business activity (the arch of the bread, fabric, cloth, vegetables, meat…)

It also held the cattle fair, of huge importance for our city, because two cattle tracks of La Mesta were linked: La Vizana y La Leonesa.

The market, whose privileges were given by the king Enrique IV had big, social and economical repercussions.

In 1581 the weekly market was moved from the Main Square to the Encarnación Square and in 1966, the building was fixed in Lanchuela Street;

According to the tradition, once a year the city holds the market in the Main Square on Thursday.

Nowadays, the Cheese Fair and the one of the cattle are very successful. Through the years, Trujillo has become a tourist centre and it offers its visitors a huge variety of options.

Trujillo has been an old, vast and inhabited land for ages; able to teach and keep alive the traditions of its people with simple methods.

The materials and products are exactly the same to those ones used by our ancestors: bone, wood, metal, clothes, furniture, jewellery and embroideries.

Trujillo has artists who work the mud, leather, wood and cooper. In the XVI th century, the potters from Trujillo were well-known in the Spanish markets and in Latin America. They offered amphoras, pitchers, buckets and so on.


The silver or gold work is another branch of the handicraft made in Trujillo. This art came to Extremadura thanks to the Tartessian tradition and afterwards with the Moorish invasion. In the XIV th and XV thcentury, gold workers created a unique piece of jewellery called "Aderezo" which consisted of earrings and a necklace, with a pendant called Rosicler or turtle because of its prominent shape similar to the shell of the animal.

Nowadays women dressed in their regional costumes wear these pieces of jewellery on Easter Sunday.

Later, the loom, appeared. It is 4000 years old and it is the first machine capable of making multicolour blankets.

Leather is also represented inside the handicrafts, which we inherited from the Moorish.

Finally, great handmade furniture are created in Trujillo; they are made of mahogany, heather, holm, and root of olive tree. The chesnut wood is used to make barrels for wine.

Trujillo has a wide variety of cuisine, the main products are: garlic, laurel and pork. It is a solid and intense cuisine. The dishes of our cuisine include: migas (bits of bread fried with garlic, red peppers and belly of pork), goat and sheep cheese, criadillas de la tierra( a variety of small potato), roast lamb, lentils, stuffed hen and home made cakes and pastries such as: piñonates (pine-nut) and cañas (filled crunchy pastry rolls), tocinillos de cielo (sweet made with egg yolk).

Our city is also well-known for its wines. These are strong in taste and aroma; the biggest production points out at Sierra de los Lagares.

As every village has its own gastronomic event, Trujillo holds the Cheese Fair, declared a Regional Tourist Attraction.