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Alcántara(älkän`tärä), town (1990 pop. 2,213), Cáceres prov., W Spain, in Extremadura, near the Tagus River. A fine Roman bridge (Arabic al-kantara) built (A.D. 105–106) in honor of Emperor Trajan and the ruins of the convent and church of the Knights of Alcántara are located in the town. The Order of Alcántara, one of the great military religious orders of Spain, established its seat in the town in the 13th cent. after the expulsion of the Moors and enjoyed a period of great splendor (13th–14th cent.).
a Spanish religious knightly order. It was founded in 1156 at the time of the reconquest of Spain from the Moors by knights from Salamanca. It was confirmed by the pope in 1177 as the order of San Julian del Perero, after the name of the frontier fortress that the knights of the order defended against the Moors. In 1213 or 1217, when King Alfonso IX gave the order the fortress of Alcántara as a gift, the order assumed the name of Alcántara. The order was a big landowner. In 1523 the king of Spain became the grand master of the Alcántara order. The order still exists.