Elvas is a small, pleasant, monumental city, classified as a World Heritage Site in 2012 as having the largest and best preserved terrestrial bastion fortifications in the world, a magnificent example of Dutch fortifying art. Elvas is, in fact, a charm for the visitor and was for centuries a historical and strategic city, which defended the south of Portugal from the invaders, who entered from Spain, whose border city is Badajoz. This city is located a few kilometers from Elvas and you can see from any of its viewpoints. To visit Elvas is to immerse oneself in Portugal’s past and in the struggle for the country’s independence.
In order to provide the city with defensive structures to sustain the invaders, more than 100 military buildings were built in Elvas, which still attest to their nature and size. Near the borderline, Elvas fought to maintain Portugal’s independence and history. And so it became an example for all mankind.
We are greeted in the city by a grand 7 km 843-arch Aqueduct, built by the same author of the Belém Tower in Lisbon, the architect Francisco de Arruda. The size and numbers are as impressive as what we’ll discover later. After all, we entered the largest bastioned fortification in the world, whose star-shaped defensive structures with a perimeter of about 10 km are a unique testimony to the evolution of military strategy until the 19th century. They were very important in the struggles with Spain for the Independence of Portugal in the mid-19th century. And served as the basis for General Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. XIX
The fortifications of Elvas are today World Heritage. The preserved military ensemble is formed by the Islamic and medieval walls and the waist of century walls. 17th century influenced by the Dutch style of Cosmander, besides the Fort of Santa Luzia (17th century), the Fort of Grace (18th century) and 3 fortins of the 18th century. XIX – Saint Mamede, Saint Peter and Saint Dominic. If we were birds, we would see the amazing design of these structures on the ground that we can now only understand in aerial photographs or guess when we visit the monuments and enjoy the surrounding landscape.
In the heart of Elvas, the Castle district is the oldest part of the city. From there to Praça da República, where is the old See, now Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, we pass by the Dominican Church, with an original octagonal plant, the Manueline pillory and the Fernandina Tower. In these streets it is easy to identify the arches that mark the ancient entrances in the walls. Discover the best places to visit in Elvas!