Herrera de Alcántara is situated in the heart of the Tajo Internacional Biosphere Reserve, halfway between Cedillo and Santiago de Alcántara, on a hillock surrounded by the Aurela Stream and the Tajo, Sever, and Alburrel rivers. The name of the municipality may come from a smithy (herrería) which existed there from the 11th century, where it is said that the grilles of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela were forged.
This territory was occupied firstly by the Romans and subsequently by the Christians in about 1167 when they snatched it from the Arabs, but in much earlier times it was also inhabited by other peoples. This is clear from the age-old dolmens which survive in the municipality. In the 15th century it became a Free Town belonging to the Order of Alcántara until it gained its independence and created its own identity; in the 17th century however during the wars with Portugal the fortification of Herrera de Alcántara was razed to the ground. An important aspect of the history and economy of this village is that it had a river port on the Tajo from where merchandise left for England via Lisbon even in the 18th century. Today one of the jetties of the river route of the ‘Balcón del Tajo’ boat is located here.