There are things that you only get to see in Extremadura, for instance, a Roman city towered by an Arabian castle, in the middle of the Campiña Sur, the Extremadurian countryside, with nothing around that prepares you for it. So, this is a story about Regina & Reina. But let’s start with Regina, and get ready to be amazed!
This city was built in the first century of our era, to exploit the rich, nearby mines, same as Munigua, right at the other side of the mountains that separate Extremadura and Andalucia. It was called Regina to honour the Roman goddess Juno, “regina” (the Latin word for “a queen”) since she was Zeus’ spouse. The city was abandoned somewhere around the 7th century, and its population fled and built a fortress on the top of the next hill, Reina (the Spanish word for “a queen”). Regina was eventually forgotten and only rediscovered in the last decades of the past century, so it has not yet been fully dug up.
However, we know that Regina was surrounded by city walls, and it had a two-tower entrance. There were many buildings and temples in the forum, but they are not well preserved as its spectacular theatre. It would seem that the stone thieves never found it. Again, it is a wonder to find this kind of treasure in the middle of the countryside! Since 2003, there have been theatrical performances going on there on summer nights. As the message at the entrance says: "Masks and actors are back in this theatre to be enjoyed by the public because this theatre was meant for it!"
From the Roman city, you can see a huge castle, Reina, towering the nearby hill. It looks massive from the foothill, but as you ascend, it gets more and more impressive. I would advise you to leave the car at the entrance of a little village and walk all the way up. It is quite tiring, but the streets are so narrow and steep that you will be thankful to leave your car out of it!
Built in the 7th century, Reina was reinforced on the 12th century by the Almohades, a tribe from North Africa, sent to the peninsula to fight the Christian kingdoms. They reused materials from the Roman city of Regina and got an amazing castle, from which it would seem that you can see the end of the world. The information plates are in Spanish and English (same as in Regina), and they will walk you through the huge castle. Plus, entrance is free in both places!
Inside a chapel, dedicated to the Lady of the Snow, are Visigoth columns (from the 7th century). Also, really intriguing paintings were discovered on its walls, depicting ships in the middle of vegetable elements, more appropriate for cave paintings than over 16th-century walls.
The Campiña Sur of Extremadura has a lot to offer. I would advise a couple of days to visit all the local attractions. Among other things, here you can discover Virgen del Ara, the Extremadurian Sixtine chapel, La Jayona, an iron mine so beautiful that has become Natural Monument, and Llerena, the Extremadurian Athens. With its beauties, such as Regina & Reina, this area is so unique that cannot be missed. After all, where else can you find a Roman city towered by an Arabian castle?
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