Tagus: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the ancient Thessalian title, see Tagus

Tajo, Tejo
View of Tagus River in Toledo, Spain
Countries Spain, Portugal
 - left Guadiela, Algodor, Gévalo, Ibor, Almonte, Salor, Sever, Sorraia
 - right Jarama, Guadarrama, Alberche, Tiétar, Zêzere
Source Fuente de García
 - location Albarracín Mountains, Teruel, Spain
 - elevation 1,593 m (5,226 ft)
Mouth Estuary of the Tagus
 - location Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon, Portugal
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Length 1,038 km (645 mi)
Basin 80,100 km2 (30,927 sq mi)
 - average 500 m3/s (17,657 cu ft/s)
Path of the Tagus through the Iberian Peninsula
Wikimedia Commons: Tagus
Website: Confederación Hidrográfica del Tajo

The Tagus (Spanish Tajo, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtaxo]; Portuguese Tejo, Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈtɛʒʊ]; Latin Tagus; Ancient Greek Τάγος Tagos) is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It measures 1,038 kilometers in length, 716 km of which are in Spain, 47 km as border between Portugal and Spain and the remaining 275 km in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic at Lisbon. It drains an area of 80,100 km² (the second largest in the Iberian peninsula after the Douro). The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course. Several dams and diversions supply drinking water to most of central Spain, including Madrid, and Portugal, while dozens of hydroelectric stations create power. Between dams it follows a very constricted course, but after Almourol it enters a vast alluvial valley prone to flooding. Its mouth is a large estuary forming the best harbor in Europe, on which the port city of Lisbon is situated.

The source of the Tagus is the Fuente de García, in the Albarracín mountains. All its major tributaries enter the Tagus from the right (north) bank. The main cities it passes through are Aranjuez, Toledo, Talavera de la Reina and Alcántara in Spain, and Abrantes, Santarém, Almada and Lisbon in Portugal.


Course of the Tagus

The Tagus in Spain

The first notable town on the Tagus is Sacedón. Below Aranjuez it receives the combined flow of the Henares and the Tajuña. Below Toledo it receives the Guadarrama river. Above Talavera de la Reina it receives the Alberche. At Valdeverdeja is the upper end of the long upper reservoir, the Embalse de Valdecañas, beyond which are the Embalse de Torrejon, into which flow the Tiétar, and the lower reservoir, the Embalse de Alcántara into which flow the Alagón at the lower end.

The Tagus in Portugal

After the stretch where the Tagus forms the border, it enters Portugal, passing by Vila Velha de Ródão, Abrantes, Constância, Entroncamento, Santarém and Vila Franca de Xira at the head of the long narrow estuary, which has Lisbon at its mouth. There is the largest bridge across the river, the Vasco da Gama Bridge (in Lisbon) with a total length of 17.2 km. It is also the longest bridge in Europe. The Portuguese regions of Alentejo and Ribatejo take their names from the river. Alentejo, from Além-Tejo ("beyond the Tagus"), and Ribatejo, from Arriba-Tejo (on the banks of the Tagus). There is a canal and aqueduct between the Tagus and the Segura river.

Lisbon viewed across the Tagus


Map of the Tagus river Basin

The lower Tagus is on a fault line. Slippage along it has caused numerous earthquakes, the major ones being those of 1309, 1531 and 1755.[1]


The Pepper Wreck is the name of a shipwreck located and excavated at the mouth of the Tagus River between 1996 and 2001.

The river also had strategic value to the Spanish and Portuguese empires, as it guarded the approach to Lisbon. For example, in 1587, Sir Francis Drake briefly approached the river after his successful raid at Cadiz.[2]

The Tagus in song and story

Vasco da Gama Bridge across the Tagus

A major river, the Tagus is brought to mind in the songs and stories of the Portuguese. A popular fado song in Lisbon notes that while people get older, the Tagus remains young ("My hair getting white, the Tagus is always young"). The author, Fernando Pessoa, wrote a poem that begins: "The Tagus is more beautiful than the river that flows through my village...."[3]

Richard Crashaw's poem "Saint Mary Magdalene, or the Weeper" refers to the "Golden" Tagus as wanting Mary Magdalene's silver tears. In classical poetry the Tagus was famous for its gold-bearing sands (Catullus 29.19, Ovid, Amores, 1.15.34, etc.

See also


  1. ^ Hobbs, William Herbert (1907). Earthquakes: An Introduction to Seismic Geology. NewYork: D. Appleton and Company. pp. 142–144.  Downloadable Google Books
  2. ^ Garrett Mattingly, The Armada, 118-119
  3. ^ Pessoa, Fernando; Richard Zenith, Translator (1999). Fernando Pessoa and Co.: Selected Poems. Grove Press. pp. 55. ISBN 0802136273, 9780802136275. 

Coordinates: 40°19′11″N 1°41′51″W / 40.31972°N 1.6975°W / 40.31972; -1.6975

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TAGUS (Span. Tajo, Portug. Tejo), the longest river of the Iberian Peninsula. Its length is 565 m., of which 192 are on or within the frontier of Portugal, and the area of its basin is about 31,850 sq. m. The basin is comparatively narrow, and the Tagus, like the other rivers of the Iberian tableland, generally flows in a rather confined valley, often at the bottom of a rocky gorge below the general level of the adjacent country. The river rises on the western slope of the Muela de San Juan (5225 ft.), a mountain which forms part of the Sierra de Albarracin, 88 m. E. of Madrid. Thence the Tagus flows at first northwestwards, but, after receiving the Gallo on the right, it flows west, and then south-west or west-south-west, which is its general direction for the rest of its course. Regular river navigation begins only at Abrantes, a few miles below which the Tagus is greatly widened by receiving on its right bank the impetuous Zezere from the Serra da Estrella. Passing Santarem, the highest point to which the tide ascends, and the limit of navigation for large sailing vessels and steamers, the river divides below Salvaterra into two arms, called the Tejo Novo (the only one practicable for ships) and the Mar de Pedro. These branches enclose a deltaic formation, a low tract of marshy alluvium known as the Lezirias, traversed by several minor channels. Both branches terminate in a broad tidal lake immediately above Lisbon. The Tagus estuary, though partly blocked by a bar of sand, is one of the chief harbours of south-western Europe.

The narrower part of the Tagus basin lies to the south, and the left-hand tributaries which drain it are almost all mere brooks, dry in summer. The principal exception is the Zatas or Sorraia, which, rising in the Serra d'Ossa, flows westwards across the plateau of Alemtejo, and joins the Mar de Pedro. The principal right-hand tributaries, besides the Gallo and Zezere, are the Jarama, descending from the tableland of New Castile a little below Aranjuez, the Alberche and the Tietar, which collect their head waters from opposite sides of the Sierra de Gredos, and the Alagon, from the rough and broken country between the Sierras de Gredos and Gata.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun




  1. A river in Iberia.



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