Puente de Alcantara, Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

Do you plan to spend some time in the Toledo region of Spain for an upcoming holiday or vacation?  Looking for some ideas with regard to what to do and see while visiting this beautiful and historical city?  A trip to Toledo offers a wealth of interesting sightseeing opportunities.  It is a city like no other in Spain, one that features architecture and architectural styles representing many different eras throughout history.  One such archaeological wonder is the Puente de Alcantara, a must-see attraction that consistently draws visitors from around the world.  To help you become more familiar with the Puente de Alcantara, below we have provided a brief overview of the structure, including some information on its history and architectural style.

Puente de Alcantara:  Overview

The city of Toledo is perhaps best known for its design.  Similar to a castle from medieval days, the city is surrounded on three sides by the Rio Tagus (River Tagus), much like a moat would surround an ancient castle.  Spanning this river is the Puente de Alcantara, or Alcantara Bridge, located at the foot of the Castillo (Castle) of San Servando.  The arch-style bridge was originally built centuries ago, during Roman times, soon after the city was founded, and during the Middle Ages, it was one of the few access points for pilgrims entering into Toledo.

The name of the Puente de Alcantara has its origin in the Arabic, meaning bridge or arch.  It was first built, according to historians’ best estimation, in the year 788 AD, at a confluence of roads to allow passage into and out of Toledo from the east, just as its counterpart, the Puente de San Martin, allows for passage in the western half of the city.  Originally a defensive enclosure, the bridge was rebuilt, according to its inscription, around 997 under the leadership of Almanzor.  However, all that remains from that period is a spur, located on the side of the bridge opposite the city, and a few decorative marbles of Visigoth origin.

The Puente de Alcantara has been renovated several times since the Visigoth era.  The most important of these projects occurred during the reign of Alfonso X, when a tower, built in the Mudejar style and modeled after the Catholic Monarchs of 1484, was added to the western end of the bridge.  This western portion also boasts a fortified gate and a crenellated crown at its base, consisting of a round arch that is decorated with the statue of San Ildefonso and the shield of the Catholic Kings.

The east side of the Puente de Alcantara retains the 10th century Gate of Alcantara, a gate of Arabic origin, with major contributions from the Christian period.  The entire bridge rests on two arches, the largest being the central arch, under which the Tagus River freely flows.

A visit to the Puente de Alcantara, which was declared a National Monument by the Spanish government in 1921, provides excellent views of the old historic district of Toledo, including the ancient defensive fortress known as El Alcazar, as well as gorgeous views of the majestic Tagus River below, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula.