TravelThe river as defense: the middle Tagus and the...

The river as defense: the middle Tagus and the Castros fortress

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The human being has known how to perfectly combine the constructive with the natural to the point of leading them to live in harmony. This consonance often overwhelms lovers of cultural heritage as a whole.

Rivers, a fundamental part of this natural environment, have played an interesting trick in providing an abundant spectrum of archaeological resources that are part of our architectural heritage.

Proof of this is the imposing Castros fortress, strategically located on the edge of the steep gorges undermined over the centuries by the Tagus River and the Pedroso stream in the province of Caceres. In the following lines we bring you closer to its history.

The rivers of the middle mark of Al-Andalus

To situate ourselves, we must go back to the times of Al-Andalus when the Umayyad emirate put all its means to defend those lands located to the south of the Tagus against the persevering Christian advance.

Of these resources, a series of fortifications, watchtowers, and other defensive remains have remained for History and for the National Heritage, such as this Castros Fortress located in Extremadura.

The Castros complex is part of the defensive system designed to protect and safeguard the area, of great value to the old Cordovan emirs. In fact, nearby, there are other vestiges that testify to the importance of these lands throughout history, such as the imposing Ciudad de Vascos.

This was the most important settlement in the area at that time (S. X) and of which abundant evidence remains in an excellent state of conservation.

On the other hand, the place names “Castros” or “Basques” can mislead us as they allude to the origin, in pre-Roman times, of another series of remains of ancestor tribes of Vettones and Celtiberians who inhabited the banks of the Tagus and which coincide with these later ones. Muslim ruins.

Castros Fortress, an ideal setting between two rivers

Water, that essential good, has been responsible for a good part of the archaeological heritage that has arisen along the large rivers, -and not so large- since the Castros Fortress is hydrographically protected on all its sides.

To the north, the imposing Tagus bears its name, creating a spectacular gorge that could well be considered a large ditch that is difficult to penetrate. To the south, another gorge, that of its minor tributary, the Pedroso stream. The latter was in charge of providing energy to the old water mills entrusted to grinding the cereal, the basis of the diet of that time.

Next to the fortress, with hardly any visible remains, a small medina that housed the people of the area, and downstream an impressive fluvial waterfall known as the Gypsy waterfall.

A small waterfall that, in addition to being the subject of legend, perfectly configures the protected enclosure in which the defensive remains of the Castros fortress stand.

How to get to the Castros fortress

Both the defensive complex and the Castros fortress are under the demarcation of a private estate, so the most recommended option is to make a panoramic visit from the right bank of the Tagus River, where, without a doubt, you have the best views of the complex.

From here you can also visit the remains (piles) of a large stone bridge over the Tagus that gave access to the Castros Fortress.

To get to this place, you have to start from the nearby Toledo municipality of El Puente del Arzobispo through a path that is only about 20 minutes on foot from its urban center.

On the other hand, a visit to the Gypsy waterfall can be done by crossing the imposing medieval bridge that gives its name to the municipality and then following a path along the edge of the steep slopes where the Tagus is lost. It is also a short tour with a low level of difficulty.

Legend of the gypsy jump, the authentic

Like many other places in the world, the Pedroso Gorge has been the subject of legend. She tells that, in the past, one hot summer day, a gypsy washed her clothes in the crystalline waters of the Pedroso stream. Next to her, her son spent time playing among the large rocky blocks of the gorge.

The boy ascended to the highest rock from which he accidentally fell into the void while the mother watched the horrifying scene in astonishment. It is said that when she saw her son fall to the bottom of the ravine, she screamed helplessly and that the echoes of that desolating cry can still be heard every year at midnight on San Juan between the abrupt walls that form this gorge.

But the legends, legends are. In this case it is a small story that has been transmitted from generation to generation among the locals.

There is no doubt that this destination is very appealing, either because of the long history that these ancient rocks treasure or because of the beauty that emanates from its entire complex.

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