Puente de Alcántara
Located to the northwest of the town, the Puente de Alcántara rises where the Tagus riverbed narrows. The infrastructure has suffered numerous ups and downs since its construction around 105. It was partially destroyed around 1213 to make the Christian attack more difficult and in 1543 the Emperor Charles restored it. Later, in 1707 the entrance arch disappeared due to the fighting with the Portuguese. It was restored in 1778, during the reign of Charles III. Finally, during the War of Independence it was seriously damaged, only to be rebuilt again in 1860.
The Puente de Alcántara is 194 meters long, 8 meters wide, and almost 60 meters high at its central point. In spite of the ups and downs it has kept its original structure. The weight of the bridge is distributed among six arches supported by solid pillars. The central span, with 28,8 m. of span, is the largest opening among Roman bridges currently standing. Built with padded granite ashlars, it has a central axis not very symmetrical, where there is an honorary arch finished by battlements and decorated with the Imperial coat of arms of Charles V. At the head of the bridge there is a small temple dedicated to Trajan.
A National Monument
After enjoying the most famous landmark to be seen in Alcántara, it is time to continue the tour. This leads to the walled enclosure, of which only a few canvases have been preserved. In the southern area is the Arco de la Concepción, from the 17th century. On the other hand, in the town centre we can emphasize the Conventual de San Benito, an old prioral house of the Order of Alcántara. Between 1506 and 1575 a church, a convent and an old inn were built in Renaissance style. It was abandoned in 1835 with the disentailment of Mendizábal, being declared National Monument in 1914. It is currently the headquarters of the San Benito de Alcántara Foundation.
Architecturally, the cloister, in Gothic style and with a square floor plan, stands out. Also the exterior facade of the Old Hostelry, known as the Carlos V Gallery, structured in three bodies with arched galleries. Such structures are flanked by two massive cylindrical towers with imperial coats of arms. The place serves as a stage for the performances of the Alcántara Classical Theatre Festival. On the other hand, the Church of San Benito was finished after the rest of the complex. The plateresque decoration of its three naves is remarkable.
Some of San Benito’s works of art were moved to the Parish Church of Santa Maria de Almocovar, located in the Plaza de España. Its three access doors and part of the tower are in late Romanesque style. However, they were retouched in the 16th and 17th centuries. The alabaster tomb of the Commander Antonio Bravo of Jerez shines inside. Equally notable are the five panels by the Extremaduran Renaissance painter Luis de Morales.
In the nearby Plaza de San Pedro is the Church of San Pedro de Alcántara (17th century), a baroque temple built over the birthplace of the saint. Thus, the room where he was theoretically born is preserved inside, with a piece of his mantle as a relic. Continuing the route through what we can see in Alcántara, in the middle of the ruins of the castle we can find the remains of the Convent of the Espíritu Santo.
The city was a stately town and many of its buildings were the noble mansions erected during the 16th century. Its façades, built with granite ashlars, open linteled holes, display coats of arms and corner windows. Meanwhile, the rooms are organized around a porticoed courtyard.
A visit to the Plaza de Corredera is also a must. There stands the House-Palace of the Roco-Campofrio, which has an unfinished façade. The site also houses the Casa-palacio de los Marqueses de Torreorgaz (17th century) and the Casa-palacio de los Topete-Escobar, with its Renaissance façade. In Calle del Barco is the Casa-palacio de los Barco (16th century).