(Last updated on 21/05/2024)

If your trip to Extremadura takes you to the northern areas of Badajoz province, make sure to visit Medellín. Whether a stop on your way to your next overnight destination or a day trip from Mérida, this small town of Roman origins in Vegas Altas del Guadiana is a little gem not to be overlooked.

This article covers everything you need to know to visit Medellín – from the main sights and other things to see nearby, to practical info and personal tips on things like how to get there, where to eat, or when to go.

Medellín, Extremadura (Spain)

1. Medellín was founded as Metellinum by the Romans in 79 BCE as a military base for operations in western Iberia.

2. In 768, it was conquered by the Arabs and remained under their influence for five centuries until the Christian army of King Ferdinand III reconquered Medellín in 1234.

3. Hernán Cortés – an equally notable and controversial Spanish conqueror of the Americas – was born in Medellín in the fifteenth century.

4. In 1802, during the Peninsular War (Guerra de la Independencia or War of Independence in Spanish), the Napoleonic army defeated the Spanish army in a brutal battle, causing numerous deaths and significant damage to the town’s public buildings and houses.

5. Medellín was a strategic place and a Republican outpost in the Extremadura front line during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

How to get to Medellín​

You can get to Medellín either by coach or by car.

Getting to Medellín by coach

There’s no bus station in Medellín. Buses and coaches normally arrive at and depart from the bus stop (parada de autobuses) located in Carretera de la Estación, opposite the Quinto Cecilio Metello Cultural Centre.

Damas serves Medellín from destinations such as Don Benito, Mérida, Badajoz, and Trujillo. Tickets must be purchased on the coach.

Coach journey duration to Medellín:
From Don Benito: from 5min to 15min
From Mérida: from 45min to 55min
From Badajoz: from 1h 25min to 1h 40min
From Trujillo: 1h 50min

Getting to Medellín by car

If you come from the west (Mérida, Badajoz, Portugal), your main point of reference will be the A-5/E-90 road Madrid-bound. Get off at exit 316 towards Ciudad Real and, after crossing Santa Amalia, take the EX-206 road to Medellín.

If you come from the south (Almendralejo, Zafra, Seville), your main point of reference will be the A66/E-803 road Mérida-bound. Join the A-5/E-90 road Madrid-bound when approaching Mérida from the south and follow the directions above to get to Medellín. You can also surround Mérida from the south, getting off the A66/E-803 at exit 626, and join the A-5/E-90 later on, but it involves numerous roundabouts, so it’s probably easier to stick to the A66/E-803 road until it merges with the A-5/E-90.

If you come from Cáceres, drive to Mérida on the E-803 and get off at exit 617 to join the E-90/A-5 Madrid-bound at the next roundabout. Then follow the above directions to reach Medellín.

If you come from Trujillo, drive down the E-90/A-5 road Badajoz-bound and get off at exit 310 towards Santa Amalia. After crossing Santa Amalia, take the EX-206 road to Medellín.

Typical car journey duration to Medellín:
From Don Benito: 10min
From Mérida: 30min
From Badajoz: 1h 5min
From Trujillo: 45min

Parking in Medellín: the most convenient place to leave your car is probably the big parking area near the Visitor Centre (Extrarradio Laderas del Castillo). You can also park for free in the main square (Plaza de Hernán Cortés) or near the bridge (Puente de los Austrias), where there’s also a parking area for camper vans and motorhomes.​

What to see in Medellín

Centro Museográfico

The Centro Museográfico (Museum/Visitor Centre) is located in Iglesia de Santiago, a thirteenth-century church on the way up to the castle and within Medellín’s archaeological site. After being abandoned in the nineteenth century, the former church was restored and transformed into a local museum, where you can learn about the history of Medellín and see some good examples of Roman sculpture. Here’s where you can buy the combined entry ticket to the museum and the Roman Theatre.

centro museográfico, medellín

Location: Iglesia de Santiago, Extrarradio Laderas del Castillo

Teatro Romano de Medellín​

The exceptional hillside location of Medellín’s Roman Theatre makes it a truly special place to visit. The theatre opened to the public in 2013 and it’s an important tourist attraction not only in the Vegas Altas area but also in Extremadura.

In 2007, several decades after some Roman remains had been found in the south-facing slope of the hill – between the castle and the Santiago church – new excavation works uncovered the original structure of a Roman theatre. Its existence had remained a secret for a very long time. After the Romans came the Visigoths, and then the Moors. Battles, looting, destruction and the passing of time saw the theatre buried into the hill during the Middle Ages well up to the second half of the twentieth century.

They added four hundred new seats to the eight hundred original seats discovered and every summer (usually at the end of July), the theatre holds several plays as part of Mérida’s International Classic Theatre Festival.

teatro romano de medellín

Location: Extrarradio Laderas del Castillo

Castillo de Medellín​

The castle is Medellín’s most recognisable monument. For me personally, it represents homecoming since it’s usually the last place I drive past before arriving in Don Benito from Madrid.

The castle as it is today dates back to the late fourteenth century and it was built over remains from the Moorish period. It’s a robust defensive fortress divided into two baileys by a wall connecting two towers. You can visit the towers and walk along the walls. You can also visit the remains of the first local Christian church, a Moorish pool, and a big cistern with pointed horseshoe arches also dating from the Moorish period. Two separate rooms display prints and copies of utensils and instruments from the conquistadors.

castillo de medellín

Location: Laderas del Castillo

Historical fact: During the Spanish Civil War, an important battle took place in Medellín. The former Moorish cistern was used as a bunker and, afterwards, as an ossuary.​

Visiting the Museum/Visitor Centre, the Roman Theatre and the Castle

Opening times: from 6 May to 9 September, the Museum/Visitor Centre, the Roman Theatre and the Castle open every day of the week from 10.30am to 2pm and from 6pm to 9pm; from 10 September to 20 October, the Museum/Visitor Centre, the Roman Theatre and the Castle open every day of the week from 10.30am to 2pm and from 5.30pm to 8pm; from 29 October to 18 February, the Museum/Visitor Centre, the Roman Theatre and the Castle open every day of the week from 10.30am to 2pm and from 3.30pm to 6pm; from 19 February to 5 May, the Museum/Visitor Centre, the Roman Theatre and the Castle open every day of the week from 10.30am to 2pm and from 4.30pm to 7pm. They close on 1 January, 6 January, 14 September, and 25 December.

Guided tours: guided tours (in Spanish) are available at 11am, 12pm, 6pm and 7pm. Included in the price.

Contact information: Medellín’s Oficina de Turismo is located in plaza de Hernán Cortés. It opens every day of the week from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm. You can contact them in advance by phone (+34 924 822438 – landline, or +34 609286187 – mobile and WhatsApp) to confirm if there are any last-minute changes to the general opening times above or you have any questions.

Tickets: you must purchase your ticket to the Museum/Visitor Centre and the Roman Theatre, and to the Castle on site on the day. They cannot be purchased in advance.

Entry fees: the general entry fee to the Museum/Visitor Centre and the Roman Theatre is €3. The general entry fee to the Castle is €2. Reduced fees available. Disabled people and children under seven go free.

Porta Caeli​

Halfway between the Museum/Visitor Centre and the bridge, near San Martín Obispo church (not open to visitors) stand the remains of the western medieval city gate (Porta Caeli). It’s a good place to sit and have a short break before walking down to the bridge.

porta caeli, medellín

Location: Calle Palacios, 18C

Puente de los Austrias

The bridge that stands today over the river Guadiana (Puente de los Austrias) is 400 metres long and dates back to 1630. It’s actually the third bridge to have been built there. The original Roman bridge was destroyed by floods in the fifteenth century, and the second bridge, built less than thirty years later, was also destroyed by floods. You can actually see the remains of the two older bridges from both sides of the river. The bridge is open to the traffic and is a pretty sight at night when lit up.

puente de los austrias, medellín

Location: BA-088 (Lat. 38.966022, Long. -5.961558)

Plaza de Hernán Cortés​

The main square is dominated by a statue of Hernán Cortés, conqueror of the Aztec Empire (present-day Mexico), who was born in Medellín. Cortés’ family home was, according to studies, situated here; this was confirmed barely several years ago, when remains of the house were found on the eastern side of the square. Next to the house remains, you can see the lintel and an inscription indicating the exact location of Cortés’ bedroom.

Other highlights in the main square include the Neoclassical townhall and the bell tower, one of the two turrets of a now disappeared medieval city gate.

plaza de hernán cortés, medellín

Location: Plaza de Hernán Cortés

What to do in Medellín

Eat at Restaurante Quinto Cecilio​

This is one of the best restaurants in the area and certainly the best choice in Medellín. It’s located on top of a hill to the north of the river, so you need a car to get there. Both the restaurant and the terrace (where food is also served) have amazing views of the castle and the surroundings. It’s closed on Sunday evenings and Mondays (all day). Advanced booking is recommended – phone +34 924 82 28 01 or chat on WhatsApp with +34 669 49 36 16. If you need accommodation in Medellín, you can stay at the Hotel Rural Quinto Cecilio.

restaurante quinto cecilio, medellín

Location: Urbanización Quinto Cecilio, Calle Cerro Pirulito, 14

Go see a play during the International Classic Theatre Festival

Medellín is one of several venues outside Mérida where the International Classic Theatre Festival also takes place, and its Roman theatre hosts several plays in July. If you’re planning to visit Extremadura at that time of the year, I strongly recommend trying to get tickets and go see a play.

All plays start at 10.45pm, after the sun is (thankfully) down. The town is buzzing all evening, as people arrive early to find a parking spot and spend some time walking around or having a drink before heading up to the Theatre. There are usually entertainment activities for children and some crafts stalls in the main square.

I can’t say that the seats are particularly comfortable, though, but the experience is worth it. And, since it’s classic theatre, you may already know the play and will enjoy it even if you’re not fluent in Spanish, I’d say.

international classic theatre festival, medellín, extremadura

Other things to see near Medellín ​

Puente Romano de Cagánchez

This is a just nice little seventeenth-century bridge just a few minutes by car to the west of Medellín. One for the bridge lovers.

puente romano de cagánchez, medellín

Coordinates: lat. 38.97257, long. -5.98227

Estación de Medellín​

If you like exploring old, abandoned buildings, Medellín’s former train station is worth the little detour. It’s located about 4km from Medellín, on the old Badajoz-Ciudad Real railway line, built in the late nineteenth century. I don’t know the exact details of its abandonment, but the staff left a lot of paperwork from the mid-eighties behind. During my last visit I found all sorts of documents lying around, such as letters, reports, timetables, job vacancies announcements and invoices.

estación de medellín

Coordinates: lat. 38.93397, long. -5.9725 (on the BA-090 road)

Map of Medellín and surroundings

Find all the places mentioned in this article on the map below.

When to visit Medellín

Medellín is a good destination to visit at any time of the year, since the monuments open all year round, but here are some tips to bear in mind when planning your trip:

Visiting Medellín in summer: avoid visiting the castle in the central hours of the day during the summer months (late June-mid September). It’s best to do the visit as early or as late in the day as possible.

Visiting Medellín in winter: do a quick weather check the day before you go to Medellín and change your plans if the forecast shows fog. The Vegas Altas area can be quite foggy in winter; some days, fog doesn’t lift at all and visibility is minimal. Leave your trip to Medellín for a clear day.

Did you know? A number of cities around the world have been named after this little Extremadura town. There’s Medellín in México, Argentina, Colombia and the Philippines.

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

Hi! I’m Irene (/ee-REH-neh/). Long since settled in the UK, I explore my Spanish home region of Extremadura with an inquisitive mind, a sharp eye, and the duality that comes with being both a local and a visitor. Then I write about it here to help you discover this beautiful yet overlooked part of Spain. If you have any questions after reading this article, submit a comment below! Read more about me.

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