Alcántara and International Tagus

Alcántara and International Tagus

If you are looking for contrasts, this is the place. A municipality taken over by a Military Order and which merges with a peaceful backwater in which nature calls the tune.

Alcántara and International Tagus

War and peace


  • If you are looking for contrasts, this is the place. A municipality taken over by a Military Order and which merges with a peaceful backwater in which nature calls the tune.

    On the banks of the Tagus River, Alcántara awaits you, an enclave right next to Portugal and full of history. Prehistoric man, the Romans and the Moors all left their footprint here. But without doubt those who left the greatest mark on Alcántara were the knights of the Military Order of San Julián Pereiro, who settled in this municipality endowing it with importance for several centuries. Since then it has become better known as the Order of Alcántara. So when you stroll along its streets you will be transported right back to the Middle Ages without even realising it.

    When you arrive in Alcántara, before proceeding to the town centre you should first visit the Roman Bridge. It was built in the 2nd century under the orders of Caius Julius Lacer, declared a National Monument in 1924 and is considered to be an emblem of the municipality. Dedicated to Trajan, it is almost 200 metres long, 8 metres wide and 71 metres high including the arch.

    As you cross the bridge going towards the town you leave behind you up on the mountains the Convent of the Sancti Espiritu and the Shrine of the Encarnación or of the Monjas Comendadoras. Built in the Gothic style in the 15th century, it was formerly the convent of the knights of Alcántara and later became that of the Monjas Comendadoras, the female branch of the Order of Knights.

    Just before you get to the town you will come across the Convent of San Bartolomé, a hostelry in the present day, but it was formerly occupied by the Franciscans until 1493, and used as a flour mill at the beginning of the 20th century.

    When you reach the town centre it will already be midday, so your best option is to leave your luggage and find a traditional establishment where you can try a delicious plate of game, partridge or rabbit, which are the speciality, washed down with a D.O. (Designation of Origin) Ribera del Guadiana wine. To finish off, you should go for the homemade desserts. You won't go far wrong!

     Once you have got your strength back you can carry on with your visit of the town. All along the way you'll find lots of shrines and chapels to visit: Nuestra Señora de los Hitos, the Church of Santiago, Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, etc. But if one type of building in the municipality really stands out it is the manor houses and ancient palaces which are scattered all around. Amongst others you will find those of the Bernáldez, Villarroel, Reina and Domínguez families. You can visit the interior of some of them so make sure you are informed. You'll see the opening hours on the door, so if it's not convenient then, make a note to come back at another time.

    Whilst you're at it, you should start your evening visit with the Convent of San Benito, another of this town's emblematic monuments. It was raised for the Order of Alcántara over a former Moorish fortress to be used as their headquarters. It is worth a visit even if only to take a look at the attractive Gothic cloister by Pedro de Larrea. By the way, in the space once occupied by the convent's kitchen garden, an auditorium has now been built which each August hosts the renowned Alcántara Classical Theatre Festival, which is not to be missed. In the evenings there are performances of excellent classical theatre works and, during the day, a large number of parallel activities take place: workshops for adults and children, round table discussions, exhibitions, parades, etc.

    And your visit really must include the Church of Nuestra Señora de Almocóvar, one of the few in the Romanesque or Pro-gothic style to be found in Extremadura. Here you will find the tomb of Comendador Antonio Bravo de Jerez, some beautiful panels by the painter Luis de Morales and a "Recumbent Christ" by Martínez Montañés.

    You should also visit the Church of San Pedro de Alcántara which was raised in honour of Juan Garabito Vilela, better known as Friar Pedro de Alcántara on joining the Franciscan Order. You'll be delighted by its baroque altarpieces.

    There is nothing finer than to enjoy the dawn surrounded by nature. If you rise early you'll get to see the sunrise in the International Tagus Nature Reserve, a rugged area with more than 25,000 hectares of forest and scrubland and with extensive pastures in an area where highlands predominate. Today will be a day in the country for you to enjoy nature, because you will be captivated by the area surrounding Alcántara. This is a magnificent area for such species of fauna as the imperial eagle, the lynx and the black stork, amongst others. In fact it has been declared a Nature Reserve as well as a SPA for wild birds. 

    The best way to get to know this environment well is to follow the "Roman Bridge of Alcántara" route, which starts at the bridge itself. You can get further information on all that the reserve has to offer from the "Nature Reserve" Interpretation Centre.

    An endless number of activities can be enjoyed there in the International Tagus Nature Reserve including horse-riding, a descent of the Tagus riverbed by kayak, a large number of hiking routes such as the one which takes you to the Valencia de Alcántara Megalithic Monument comprising more than 40 dolmens and menhirs, etc. A day spent in harmony both with yourself and with nature will leave a lasting memory.

  • Theme:

    • Art and culture
    • Leisure
  1. Day 1
Alcántara — history and nature

a Alcántara — history and nature

Tourist destination

Alcántara is a stately town with great cultural wealth. In addition to its natural surroundings — precious and accessible.

Location:

Plaza de España, 1 Alcántara, Cáceres (Extremadura)

Tagus International Nature Reserve

b Tagus International Nature Reserve

Nature area

The Tagus International Nature Reserve is one of the last refuges for various threatened species native to Mediterranean woodlands. Pure flora and fauna biodiversity.

Location:

Tagus International Nature Reserve Varios municipios, Cáceres (Extremadura)