Cáceres, a province of western Spain, formed in 1833 of districts taken from Estremadura, and bounded on the N. by Salamanca and ávila, E. by Toledo, S. by Badajoz, and W. by Portugal. Pop. (1900) 362,164; area, 7667 sq. m. Cáceres is the largest of Spanish provinces, after Badajoz, and one of the most thinly peopled, although the number of its inhabitants steadily increases. Except for the mountainous north, where the Sierra de Gata and the Sierra de Grédos mark respectively the boundaries of Salamanca and ávila, and in the south-east, where there are several lower ranges, almost the entire surface is flat or undulating, with wide tracts of moorland and thin pasture. There is little forest and many districts suffer from drought. The whole province, except the extreme south, belongs to the basin of the river Tagus, which flows from east to west through the central districts, and is joined by several tributaries, notably the Alagon and Tietar, from the north, and the Salor and Almonte from the south. The climate is temperate except in summer, when hot east winds prevail. Fair quantities of grain and olives are raised, but as a stock-breeding province Cáceres ranks second only to Badajoz. In 1900 its flocks and herds numbered more than 1,000,000 head.
It is famed for its sheep and pigs, and exports wool, hams and the red sausages called embutidos. Its mineral resources are comparatively insignificant. The total number of mines at work in 1903 was only nine; their output consisted of phosphates, with a small amount of zinc and tin. Brandy, leather and cork goods, and coarse woollen stuffs are manufactured in many of the towns, but the backwardness of education, the lack of good roads, and the general poverty retard the development of commerce. The more northerly of the two Madrid-Lisbon railways enters the province on the east; passes south of Plasencia, where it is joined by the railway from Salamanca, on the north; and reaches the Portuguese frontier at Valencia de Alcántara. This line is supplemented by a branch from Arroyo to the city of Cáceres, and thence southwards to Mérida in Badajoz. Here it meets the railways from Seville and Cordova. The principal towns of Cáceres are Cáceres (pop. 1900, 16,933); Alcántara (3248), famous for its Roman bridge; Plasencia (8208); Trujillo (12,512), and Valencia de Alcántara (9417). These are described in separate articles.
Arroyo, or Arroyo del Puerco (7094), is an important agricultural market. (See also Estremadura.)
Cáceres, the capital of the Spanish province of Cáceres, about 20 m. S. of the river Tagus, on the Cáceres-Mérida railway, and on a branch line which meets the more northerly of the two Madrid-Lisbon railways at Arroyo, 10 m. W. Pop. (1900) 16,933. Cáceres occupies a conspicuous eminence on a low ridge running east and west. At the highest point rises the lofty tower of San Mateo, a fine Gothic church, which overlooks the old town, with its ancient palaces and massive walls, gateways and towers. Many of the palaces, notably those of the provincial legislature, the dukes of Abrantes, and the counts of la Torre, are good examples of medieval domestic architecture. The monastery and college of the Jesuits, formerly one of the finest in Spain, has been secularized and converted into a hospital. In the modern town, built on lower ground beyond the walls, are the law courts, town-hall, schools and the palace of the bishops of Cória (pop. 3124), a town on the river Alagon. The industries of Cáceres include the manufacture of cork and leather goods, pottery and cloth. There is also a large trade in grain, oil, live-stock and phosphates from the neighbouring mines.
The name of Cáceres is probably an adaptation of Los Alcázares, from the Moorish Alcázar, a tower or castle; but it is frequently connected with the neighbouring Castra Caecilia and Castra Servilia, two Roman camps on the Mérida-Salamanca road. The town is of Roman origin and probably stands on the site of Norba Caesarina. Several Roman inscriptions, statues and other remains have been discovered.