East Sierra de Gata
Perales del Puerto
Perales is the first village you will come to when driving up from Madrid. The road winds up from the plains of the Alagón Valley and the town of Moraleja and you find yourself in a land of olive groves with the mountains of the Sierra de Gata range ahead of you to the north. The whitewashed village straddles main the road which continues all the way to the north coast. Only 900 people live here but there is plenty of life in the many bars as well as two small supermarkets, a health centre, a library and an excellent butcher. When Almanzor, the Moorish Ruler of Andalusia, sacked the Christian city of Santiago de Compostela in 997 AD, he sent the bells from the cathedral back to his stronghold in Cordoba as booty. However, legend has it that his servants grew tired of their bronze burden and abandoned one of the bells in Perales. The locals found it and hung it in the bell tower of the village church where is has chimed regularly ever since. The Chaplin Bar opposite the Town Hall is a great place to enjoy a coffee of a beer on its spacious terrace. 200 metres to the north along the main road on the right you will find “El Pilar”, a bar-cafetería which offers excellent coffee, excellent cuisine and a wide range of homemade cakes.
Hoyos is a cheerful village with a population of around 900, narrow streets and stone houses. There is a street market every Monday morning in the square behind the Romanesque church and excellent food in the “El Redoble” bar and restaurant on the main road. It was in Hoyos that the 85-year-old Bishop of Coria took refuge after publicly urging the people to take up arms against Napoleon’s invading forces. Sadly, he was discovered and murdered by the French and there is a plaque next to the bus stop which commemorates this historic event.
This is a truly mountain village of narrow, climbing streets, old stone houses and staggering views of the surrounding countryside. From here you can walk up to the “Almenara” watchtower, the hilltop symbol of the Sierra de Gata area or climb up the old Roman road to the “Castilla” mountain pass which separates Extremadura from neighbouring Salamanca province. There are at least three good restaurants in the village and we especially recommend “Los Portales” in the main square for its cold beer, excellent local cuisine and reasonable prices.