Spain and the Renaissance

Published on 30 January 2008
Tibi, the highest dam in the world until 1856

Spain was able to make the best of its double heritage, both Roman and Muslim, to become one of the major dam builders of the Renaissance.

As a result, the remains of seventy-two Roman structures have been counted which have benefited also from the addition of Arab expertise in irrigation. Amongst the structures bequeathed as a result of the Muslim conquest, the gravity dam of Almonacid was built in the XIIIth century near Saragossa. 29 metres in height and 200 in length, it has since had its reservoir filled in and laid to crop.

Another major structure of this period, the arch dam of Almansa, was built in 1384 to the North of Alicante. Originally 13 metres high, it was heightened in the XVIth century to reach its present 25 metres.

This rich heritage inspired Spanish builders, with dams such as those of Elche (built from 1632 onwards) or Tibi (1580-1594). 46 metres high and 65 metres long, this remained the highest dam in the world until 1856.