Photographer's Note

This is one of my favourites places. The bridge, located in the small but beautiful village of Alcántara (province of Cáceres, Spain) was build by romans about the year 100 (that's about 19 centuries ago). Also known as the Puente de Trajano (Trajan Bridge) after the roman emperor who ordered its construction to let legions easily cross the Tajo (Tagus) river to conquer Lusitania (actual Portual), it was designed by Cayo Julio Lacer (Caius Julius Lacer). Made of pure grenite blocks without the use of mortar, it is the biggest roman bridge in the world: near 200 meters long (more than 600 feet), near 50 meters (190 feet more or less) high (without that central triumph arch, it was added centuries later) and 8 meters (25 feet) wide.

In one extreme of the bridge there is a little roman temple build at the same time as the bridge, and in the other side there is a military fort (defensive tower, shown in this picture) build, if I'm not wrong, in the XVII century, due to the wars between Spain and Portugal (Alcantara, as well as my own village, 16km away, have been taken by portugueses several times).

For its strategy position, it have taken part in many wars/battles, like in the spanish reconquest against moors. When finally this zone was taken by spanish kings, the central triumph arch was build to celebrate it (well, I'm not really sure if this was the time, but is what I remember from school).

In 1809, or so, I think, it was partially destroyed (one of the archs) by Napoleon's soldiers to prevent the british army, commanded by Wellington, to have a good acces to Spain. Almost all the Iberian Peninsula was taken by french troops but british retaken Portugal and this bridge was the only easy acces to Spain. The Tajo is a large and wide river and in this zone it flows between cannyons (in fact, cannyon is the meaning of Tajo). The roman bridge of Alcantara remains actually the only way to cross the river Tajo in this area of Spain. Nearest bridge is more than 30km away (not sure) by the river, but if you want to cross the river with your car you have to go far away, more or less 50km, so if it is an important pass this days, just imagine 200 years ago... Well, today you could cross the river over the big damm of Alcantara, but it's closed to public traffic and is not a real road.

The most fascinating thing about the importance of this bridge is that it is in use these days: you can see persons, cars, buses or tracks crossing it all the day. Not much traffic, but enough for a bridge of this kind, I guess, and a real annoyance when you try to take some good photos (hopefully, this time I was there at night).

The name of the village of Alcantara is from the arabic "Al-Qantarah" and it means "el puente" ("the bridge"). The legend says that moors hide a gold sword into the bridge, but despite all the times I have been here, I haven't seen it! :(

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Additional Photos by Antonio Rojilla (zacatua) Silver Note Writer [C: 2 W: 2 N: 32] (103)
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