Mata de Alcántara is set in the Tajo Internacional Biosphere Reserve and is particularly known for the ecological corridor of the Rivera de La Mata in which we can find characteristic fauna and flora together with remains of the various watermills, oil presses, etc. which gave life to the area.
Its numerous festivals and traditions include especially the unusual ‘Pela del Potro’, the inexpressible Naharro Route, the Pilgrimage of San Lorenzo in the heart of the dehesa of common land, and the Autumn-Equinox-Reconquest Market which is held on the second weekend in October around the long weekend of El Pilar.
The origin of the village of Mata de Alcántara is linked to the Reconquest and the Military Order of Alcántara. These territories were conquered by Alfonso IX of León, who took Alcántara in 1213, and handed over to the Order for their defence and organisation. From then on the command system was used by which a knight commander administered the territory to repopulate the area; La Mata is one of several villages which arose in this way. Human presence here is however much older as is shown by the existence of important remains from previous epochs in the form of Pre-Roman rock altars such as that of the “Peña Carnicera”, ancient Roman oil presses, Palaeo-Christian tombs, etc.
The 16th century saw the greatest development and growth of this area and La Mata took shape by means of the construction of its Parish Church of Our Lady of Grace by the great architect Pedro de Ibarra. In the 17th and 18th centuries the municipality suffered the effects of the wars with Portugal which involved sacking and pillaging; the same thing happened in the early 19th century with the French invasion during the Peninsular War.