Trujillo originally "Turgallium" in Latin meaning an indigenous fortified village, became a Roman city under the rule of Trajan. Built on a granite hill it's surrounded by many large rugged outcrops of stone.
For the Visigoths Trujillo was their main city of the region on the road between Mérida and Toledo.
Captured in the 7th century by the Muslims it was known as "Torgelo". In the 9th century the Berbers built the walls, towers and cistern making it an important fortification in the defensive network with Cáceres and Montánchez.
The Christian Knights of Trujillo took the castle, but in 1196 the Muslims recaptured it at the battle of Alarcos. Finally with the aid of knights from the orders of Santiago, Templar, Alcántara and Hospitalarios de San Juan and with troups of the Bishop of Plasencia Trujillo was reconquered on Jan. 25, 1232. According to local tradition, the attacking troups saw between the castle towers a vision the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus, which encouraged the Christians to overpower the Saracens.
After the reconquest, Trujillo was made a freecity in 1256 and was placed under the crown in 1430 and in 1465 King Henry IV made it a market town. In the 15th century feudal infighting erupted between the wealther noble families. In 1476 the king passed and edict ordering the disablement of fortified palace strongholds. As a result a noble family was no longer allowed to have towers taller than the neighoring houses nor could they be equipped with narrow windows for archers. Except for clergy, all men until the age of 60, including nobles, were required by the King to service in battle. Men from Trujillo fought valliantly in the battle of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain.
From this prosperous market city came two of the most famous conquistadors the most successful of whom was Francisco Pizarro who captured the Inca Empire in Peru. Also Francisco de Orellana who navigated and named the Amazon river.
Trujillo grew in importance and flourished for three centuries. In 1790, in fact, Trujillo was the seat of the largest judicial district in Extremadura, encompassing 84 towns and villages. But the Napoleonic invasion in 1809 ended the town's prosperity. French troops plundered anything of value, and then destroyed and set fire to most of the buildings. It was again pillaged by British forces who "liberated" them in 1811. After the Napleonic War, the city was reduced to piles of rubble, and only those too poor or too old to move away, stayed behind to reconstruct it.
Today Trujillo is regaining some of its past glory. Located on the new freeway between Madrid and Lisbon it has an increased number of tourists. Restoration of palaces in the old town has also begun.