Places to visit in Elvas, fortress city World Heritage in Portugal

Fortifications in Elva in the Alentejo of Portugal

In previous car trips to Portugal, when entering by Badajoz, the panoramic view of the border city of Elvas, which rises on a hill that looks south from the highway.

But I had never been encouraged to enter Elvas.

Now, during my recent travel through the Alentejo region I had the opportunity to visit Elvas, undoubtedly attracted to know that not long ago, in 2012, he was declared World Heritage.

Amoreira Aqueduct in Elvas in Alentejo Portugal

Why Elvas is a World Heritage Site

What is the reason why Elvas has entered the prestigious list of the Unesco?

As explained by the agency itself, Elvas has a system of walls and moats dry that make up the land fortification of greater dimensions that is conserved in the world.

As a curiosity I will tell you that the largest fortification in the world is the one that configures the city of Valletta in malt, but in this case it is a maritime fortification.

As soon as you arrive at Elvas it is easy for you to verify that, in effect, it is a fortress city It has up to four lines of walls built at different times.

Fort of Santa Lucia in Elvas in Alentejo Portugal

The first line of Elvas wall, which frames the current historical Center, dates back to the ninth century, at the time of the Arab occupation, and the following walls are from the twelfth, fourteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The latter, which began in 1640, is the best example of the Dutch school of fortifications that exists in the world, another argument of the Unesco for the inclusion of Elvas in the list of World Heritage.

What to see and do in Elvas in one day

This military character, which is explained because since 1297 Elvas it was a border city of Portugal with the kingdom of Castilla, it is verified even before crossing the outer wall of the city.

Fort of Saint Lucia

In front of it you find the Fort of Saint Lucia, a great fortification that was completed in 1648, whose innovative defensive structure anticipated the famous citadels of Vauban, the military engineer of Louis XIV in France.

Republic Square in Elvas in Alentejo Portugal

In its time this fort came to house a garrison of more than 800 men.

Also outside the outer city wall you find another of the emblematic monuments of Elvas.

Elvas Aqueduct

I mean theAmoreira Aqueduct, seven and a half kilometers long, also built in the seventeenth century with the objective that the city could ensure the supply of water during sieges.

Republic Square

Your walk through it historic center of Elvas you must start it from the Republic Square, central axis of the city, where you find besides the building of the town hall, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, former episcopal see and Elvas Cathedral.

Entrance arch to the ancient cathedral of Elvas in Alentejo Portugal

It is a building of the late fifteenth century where you can still see features of the style Manueline architectural with which it was built, as the side entrance door to the temple.

Gate of the old Alcazaba of Elvas

From the mentioned square you must go up to the upper part of the city, where you will cross the oldest line of the wall where the door of the old alcazaba.

You will already be walking through an area of ​​narrow streets, with the characteristic configuration of Muslim or medieval cities.

Elvas Castle

You will finally arrive at Elvas Castle, where in several viewpoints you have the best panoramic views of Elvas and its surroundings.

Door of the old Alcazaba of Elvas in Alentejo Portugal

From there you can see some of the churches of the city, such as the Jesuits, and also old military buildings that are abandoned, but for which there is a reform project.

Looking north, on a nearby hill you can see the silhouette of the Fort of Graca, another great fortification that integrated the defensive system of this border city.

At present, how well can you guess Elvas He has lost that defensive character.

On the contrary, Elvas and nearby Badajoz they are considered a eurocity, a cross-border space that brings them together and promotes cooperation on many issues, such as commerce or tourism.

How to get to Elvas

Elvas you find it in the route between Madrid and Lisbon, just across the border and very close to the city of Badajoz.

Pictures of Elvas

To encourage you to visit it, here are more photos of Elvas, city of Portuguese Alentejo.

Video: The Historic Forts of Elvas - UNESCO World Heritage Site (January 2020).