Garrovillas de Alconetar is a pretty Extremaduran town with one of the most delightful plaza mayors anywhere in Spain. Moreover, Garrovillas de Alconetar has a remarkably beautiful hospederia (hotel) overlooking the plaza (the hospederia features in the background of a photo or two). The main part of the hospederia is an old family home conceived on a palatial scale. The hospederia’s best features are the dining room with its high ceiling and bare stone walls, the stone staircase ascending within a square tower, and the wide first floor balcony providing outstanding views across the plaza.
Inevitably, the large Plaza Mayor, overlooked by the white plaster walls of two-storey buildings with arcades at ground floor level, is Garrovillas de Alconetar’s main attraction, but all the streets leading to the plaza have much to offer. Because the plaza is still used, as in years past, to hold bullfights, buildings at the points where the plaza can be entered have on their walls the cavities and brackets where barricades can be installed to stop the bulls escaping.
The town has attractive side streets, churches, hermitages, a convent and a pretty cemetery. Short walks into the surrounding countryside can be undertaken along old dirt and gravel roads between dry stone walls.
On the west side of town, immediately beyond a small, stone-built hermitage with sections of whitewashed plaster walls, an enormous ruined convent stands in splendid isolation. Tall stone walls enclose a large patch of land which, in the past, was used by the nuns to grow fruit and vegetables. Because part of one boundary wall has collapsed, you can easily access the convent. One of the most attractive parts of the ruin is where the cloister used to be. Columns at ground and first floor level confirm that the convent was extremely important in its heyday, obviously from the spiritual point of view, but also, it would seem, from an economic perspective. Now, of course, the ruins, daubed with lots of graffiti, tell a very different tale. The Roman Catholic Church is not the force it once was in Spain.