The organisation committee for the “Cáceres 2016” event has its office in the “Palacio de la Isla”, the place where the former New Synagogue used to be. The synagogue was demolished as a result of the persecution of the Jews at the end of the 15th century and gave way to a Monastery. Today at this place you will find a magnificent City Residence, which was built in the 16th century by earls from the family de la Isla, and is located not far from the massive City Wall built in the 12th century by the Almoravids. The wall was built on the grounds of the former Roman City Wall that was erected nearly 2000 years ago and encompassed the ancient settlement. In erecting the wall, Muslims from Morocco aimed to stop the assault of the Christians. The present town name Cáceres derives from Qazris, the first name that was originally given by the Muslim Clan. However, in 1229 eventually the Christian knights got the upper hand over the Muslims and conquered the city. Cáceres became a bishop see.
The application of Cáceres for the title of Europe’s Capital of Culture is due to the fact that the organisers are aware of the historical role of their town with respect to culture and religion from the ancient world until today. If Cáceres is geographically situated at the edge of Europe, its history happened at the heart of this continent. So the organisation committee wants to highlight the different cultural heritages that distinguish the town so much from others. On the one hand you have the great number of ancient religious customs concerning for instance the Holy Week, the procession in honour of the “Virgen de la Montana”, the Virgin of the mountains, or the festivities in honour of the city’s patron St. George. On the other hand you also have the “Filmoteca de Extremadura” that has enriched the cultural life of the town since 1978. Although this may nowadays elicit many a chuckle, it was officially the assignment of this movie centre to enhance the cultural level of the inhabitants. Today it has its peers in Mérida und Badajoz. In fact experience has revealed that people do not only go to the movies to see mainstream films, they also enjoy other genres. Moreover, the Filmoteca is state-sponsored, so it is not driven by profit and feels free to choose the films it displays. Because of its primary goal “educating people first”, the ticket prices are very low (under 1 euro). For 30 years the Filmoteca has supported the film industry of Extremadura.
Beyond its religions and educational cinema, Cáceres will also highlight in its application the other facet of its rich culture, namely the several local festivals. For this aim the organisers deliberately opt for the famous Fiesta in Casar de Cáceres, during which the local feta cheese of the season is celebrated each year. But they also intend to charm the jury with other local delicacies like the Iberian ham that is an integral part of their cultural richness. Museums, concert halls and music festivals; all these cultural events are going to be enhanced in their uniqueness for the coveted title of Capital of Culture. In 2016 tourists and guests have to experience culture on streets and in public places. And who can better manage this than Cáceres, this authentic and cheerful city?