Suffolk Madrid students pieced together crucial elements of the Spanish historical puzzle when they visited, Almudena Cros, one of Spain’s lesser-known regions, in mid-March.

In Mérida, originally a Roman colony established by the Emperor Augustus, they were fascinated by the many Roman ruins, particularly the city’s ancient amphitheater, completed in 8 BCE. The amphitheater, along with other Mérida ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.

In Trujillo, they visited Alcazaba, a tenth century Muslim stronghold built over Roman fortifications. In subsequent centuries the city of Trujillo changed hands from Muslim to Christian and back again, with Christian forces claiming that the Virgen de la Victoria helped them capture the city for good in 1232. Like many ancient buildings, Alcazaba has been rebuilt many times.

Trujillo also was the birthplace of conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who enriched himself while laying waste to the Incan civilization in the sixteenth century.

Students saw the the monastery of Yuste, a site chosen as a refuge by Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V after he abdicated following a 40-year reign in the sixteenth century. He had engaged in prolonged warfare with the Ottoman empire and France, but chose to retire to Yuste, finishing his life in prayer and meditation.

The monastery, which was rebuilt after its fiery destruction by Napoleon’s army, is in the foothills of mountains located in the Cáceres region.