Yes, that was a question. Have you?
Me neither, but I may give it a try next time I visit Alcántara.
Not only does this small town in Cáceres province have one of the most stunning bridges in Spain and splendid palaces, but also a quarry just a few km away where you can swim.
That’s right. A quarry full of water.
How did that happen? How did a quarry fill in with water?
Well, the stone extracted from quarry was used in the sixties to build the nearby dam on the River Tagus. Due to filtrations from the river, the quarry soon started filling up with water and now looks like a small lake.
When I visited Alcántara two months ago I had no idea of its existence and it was quite a surprise. This was recommended to me by the local Tourist Office, which seems to have started a campaign to promote the place in the region to attract visitors. A local man I spoke to complained the quarry used to be a place for the enjoyment of the locals only and now people from other towns come here for a summer dip and the place is not quiet anymore. I’d better go back soon before it gets popular!
They say the slope of the quarry reaches 100 m, but the water is ‘only’ 50 m deep. That sounds a bit scary to me but, apparently, the shore is shallow and it’s safe to just have a dip near the sand. Because there is sand. And toilets. And even a small picnic area. These alcantarinos have created their own local beach!
As I visited Alcántara in December, it wasn’t the perfect time for a swim, but the place was worth the visit anyway. The sheer crags surrounding the quarry are pretty impressive. Many Egyptian vultures have nested on the rocks and it’s beautiful to see them flying elegantly over the quarry. They say the uncommon black storks (Circonia nigra) can also be seen in the area.
Make sure you take binoculars with you to enjoy a little bit of bird watching. It’s quite easy to spot the nests of the vultures, you just need to locate the massive white stains on the rocks (that’s their poo!). The nests won’t be far.
A viewpoint with incredible views of the bridge, the town and the dam. On your way back from the quarry and barely some hundred meters before reaching the main road turn left. You can’t miss it (you will regret it if you do).
The quarry is about 6 km from Alcántara.
Drive through the Roman bridge and take the road EX-207 towards Portugal. After 1 km you will find a small road on the right. Take this turning and keep driving straight ahead until you reach the quarry. Forget about the ‘Camping’ signs you’ll find along and just keep following the road.
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Irene Corchado Resmella
I'm a UK-based independent Spanish sworn and legal translator working as ICR Translations. On Piggy Traveller, I share my home region of Extremadura with the world to encourage travellers to discover a different Spain. Serial migrant. Russophile. Married to a Scot. Find me on Instagram.