Site of the Roman bridge; an engineering marvel

Alcantara Travel Blog

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City map of a lovely little city

In the last spurs of the Sierra de San Pedro, on the banks of the Tajo river, the historic quarter of Alcántara unfolds. The city, located on the border that separates Spain from Portugal, informally called "Raya", has a valuable monumental patrimony. Some of the most important constructions include the Roman bridge and those built by the Order of Alcantara. Holm-oak and cork-oak forests are part of the gorgeous scenery that surrounds the Alcántara reservoir, an excellent place for water sports, hiking and horse riding. The bank of the Tajo river also provides many points where the traveller can go fishing.

One of the most emblematic constructions of the town of Alcántara, in Caceres, takes you back to Roman Hispania.

One of the squares
It is the Roman bridge, an engineering marvel that was built in the second century over the waters of the Tajo River, which the Romans called Tagus Aurifer. The bridge is more than 200 metres long and 60 metres high, it has six arches and preserves an honorary arch dedicated to Emperor Trajan.

Some of the most important monuments in the urban layout of this town were built at the initiative of the Order of Alcántara. During the Middle Ages and up to the 13th century, Extremadura was the border between the kingdoms of Leon and the Moors. For this reason, a number of Military Orders took control over these lands after the Reconquest. The parish church of Our Lady of Almocóvar is a great example of this period, which mainly followed the Romanesque style (already widespread in the north of the Peninsula).

A cute little beer
Raised on top of an ancient mosque, the church has beautiful fronts that announce the incoming Gothic style.

Archaeological findings have attested human presence in the area from the Bronz Age; the first historical inhabitants were the Lusitanians, followed by the Celts, who came from east to the Pyrenees. To this period, and to the following Roman domination, belong remains of several castra (military camps), villas and the bridge which gives its name to the city. The Roman rule lasted from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century, when they were replaced by the Visigoths.

In the 8th century the Arabs conquered the Iberian Peninsula, including Extremadura. In the 12th century the Muslim geographer al-Idrisi described the bridge as one of the world's marvels. In the 12th-13th centuries Alcántara was a frontier city, devoted to military activities and animal husbandry.

Tapas
After the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba, it belonged to several Islamic taifas (petty kingdoms).

Ferdinand II of Leon occupied it in 1167, during his wars against Portugal, but later the town was recaptured by the Almohads. The Christians conquered it definitely in 1213 with Alfonso IX of Leon. In 1217 it was given to the military order of Calatrava. They however considered it too difficult to defend, and thus the following year they were replaced by the Order of San Julian de Pereiro, a military order created in 1156 and which had its headquarters on the Rio Cora and which later took its name from Alcántara, where they established. The city maintained its strategical importance until 1655, when Portugal was finally separated from Spain.

Tapas
In 1807, during the Pinisul war, it was occupied by the French troops.

Alcántara lost all its importance in the 19th century, when the order's properties were secularized. Its depopulation was halted only in the 1960s, when the electric company Hidroeletrica Espansola built here several plants. However, its economy was not boosted, and the town is still part of one of the less developed areas of Spain.

The Order of Alcantara, a religious and military order, was established in 1176 here, for defence against the Moors, and was suppressed in 1835.

Chokk says:
Thank u Portia :D
Posted on: May 02, 2015
portia says:
great informative blog! glad you finally got to visit Alcantara.
Posted on: May 02, 2015
Chokk says:
THis area of Spain was a war zone for years and years. The awesome thing is that everybody left something that is still there; like bridges or names
Posted on: Jun 17, 2013
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City map of a lovely little city
City map of a lovely little city
One of the squares
One of the squares
A cute little beer
A cute little beer
Tapas
Tapas
Tapas
Tapas
The strong one
The strong one
The main square
The main square
The main square
The main square
The hotel
The hotel
The hotel
The hotel
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Views from the Roman bridge a piec…
Views from the Roman bridge a pie…
Alcantara
photo by: portia