Bastioned Fortifications in the Historical Centre of Elvas

Visit the majestic bastioned fortifications of Elvas during your stay in el Alentejo, Portugal.

Bastioned Fortifications in the Historical Centre of Elvas
Bastioned Fortifications in the Historical Centre
© Câmara Municipal de Elvas

The city of Elvas, located 8 kilometres away from Badajoz (Spain), is a strategic point for the cross-border defense and it inherited a huge military role. All the historical centre of the city, the bastioned walls of 17th century, the Fortress of Santa Luzia, the Fortress da Graça, the Aqueduct da Amoreira and the three small forts of São Pedro, São Mamede and São Domingos are classified as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

 

The complex of fortifications of Elvas was founded during the reign of King Sancho II and it is the biggest complex of bastioned land fortifications in the world. It has a perimeter that sizes between 8-10 kilometres in an area of 300 hectares. Its bastioned walls were built up during the Restoration War and they are a clear example of the Dutch tradition of military architecture.

This complex features medieval and modern fortifications. The medieval walls join each other with turrets, transforming the city into a huge headquarter following the former Dutch fortification method. The complex also has seven bastions, four middle bastions and a redan that were part of the first defensive line of el Alentejo, together with the Campo Maior one, Ouguela one, Olivença one and Juromenha one.
The access is through any of the three double doors (the Olivença one, the São Vicente one or the Esquina one), all of them with war decorations.

If you decide to walk by the bastioned wall of the city of Elvas, you’ll be transported to the Restoration War period (1641-1668), when Portugal sank in a new war as soon as it had reached independence.

Military engineers assumed that the Fernandine walls couldn’t assure the protection of the city because of its vertical position. It was at that moment when king João IV sent the Jesuit Father Cosmander (a Hollander expert in military architecture) to investigate the existing fortifications in his country and, if it was necessary, build new ones.
As Portugal needed technicians in military architecture, Cosmander was promoted to Colonel before he arrived to Elvas. He built up a perfect bastioned system in the town and baptised the city as the Plaza de Armas (Arm Square) of the Alentejo Province. All of this was inspired by Dutch masters such as Simon Stevin or Samuel Marolois, inventors of the first Dutch fortification system.

Nowadays, the 17th century walls of Elvas are an original example of the fortifications and are unique in the world, specially due to their good conditions and authenticity.

More Information:

Location:

Elvas, Alentejo, Portugal.

Ticket Price:

Free Admission

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