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This 'old-world' frontier town of Alcantara lies on the rocky heights above the south bank of the Tagus, which itself forms the boundary between Spain and Portugal further down the river. The town, originally founded about A.D.106, was the original place of the knightly Order of Alcantara.

Apart from the buildings of the Convent, the church and a large dam and resulting 'lakes', there can't be said that Alcantara has a lot going for it, being only a small town. But there is one exception - the Roman Bridge, which is exceptional.

Alcantara (in Arabic 'the bridge') owes it's name to the magnificent Roman bridge which spans the Tagus on the north-west. This was originally built about A.D. 105, in honour (for) of the Roman emperor Trajan. It has had a number of 'mishaps' over the centuries, but in each case it has been successfully repaired to the fine example of Roman bridge building we see today.


Emperor Trajan, was born in the year 53AD and although was part of a Roman family, was born in Andalucia in the city of Italica (now called Santiponce, 9 km NW of Seville). He became a prolific builder in both Rome and the provinces, including the bridge at Alcantara.

Alcantara Bridge


The bridge is constructed entirely of granite blocks, without any cement, and consists of six arches of various sizes, with a total length of 616 feet and a height of about 190 feet. in the middle piers, which are surmounted by a fortified gateway. Well worth a visit.
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