November 24, 2008

Iberian Bridges

Joint issue Portugal with Spain.

Of the 1215 kilometres of frontier separating Portugal and Spain, almost 400 - around one third - are marked out by extensive stretches of the rivers Minho, Douro. Tagus and Guadiana, all of which originate in Spain. Since immemorial time, these rivers have been the setting for both conflict and peace between the peoples on the two sides. Occupying a well-defined geographic macro-area - the Iberian Peninsula - the Portuguese and Spanish have a common history dating back many thousands of years. In the past, they lived united under one power for over one thousand years: first the Roman Empire (3rd century BC to 5th century AD), followed by the Suevi and Visigoths (6th and 7th centuries) and finally the Arab Empire (8th to 11th centuries).

The Alcantara Bridge (from the Arab Al-qantara, meaning "bridge"), designed by Gaius Julius Lacer, was built during the romanisation of Iberia in around 106 AD. Today, the history of this Iberian monument standing 61 metres high, 194 long and 8 wide, where the Alagon and Tagus rivers meet and as the latter enters its international section, is an eloquent testimony to centuries of Portuguese-Spanish relations.

Some nineteen hundred years later, the International Bridge over the river Guadiana connecting Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Portugal and Ayamonte in Spain was built. Inaugurated in 1991, this pre-stressed concrete cable-stayed bridge, with a 324 metres span, is a symbol of modern-day relations between the two countries, which since 1986 have been developing under the auspices of a larger and more powerful institution - the European Union.

Stamp Issue: 2006-09-14

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