The Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications comprise a frontier town that was strongly fortified from the 17th to 19th century. It guards a key border crossing between Lisbon and Madrid.
The fortifications are of the bulwarked dry-ditched type (“Dutch school of fortification”): as such it is the largest surviving example in the world.
The site consists of 7 parts:
• Historic centre
• Amoreira Aqueduct
• Fort of Santa Luzia and the covered way linking it to the Historic Centre
• Fort of Graça
• Fortlets of São Mamede
• Fortlet of São Pedro
• Fortlet of São Domingos
Visit December 2012
I liked Elvas tremendously: it's the authenticity and completeness of this fortified town that is remarkable in Europe in the 21st century. New developments have passed by, or at least are limited to the neighbourhoods outside of the city walls.
Arriving here already is a spectacular experience: first you notice the enormous aquaduct, connecting the heart of the town with a water source in the far distance. Then it's time to tackle one of the four city gates - clearly made during times without motorized vehicles. I was thinking "This looks like a pedestrian gate, I shouldn't be driving here." But it was OK, although I caused a minor traffic jam when I wasn't able to release the handbrake of my rental car. The city streets are as narrow as the gates, so I was happy that I could leave my car behind at the hotel parking. I slept in one of the monuments by the way, the Hotel Sao Jao de Deus is located in the former military hospital.
The town also still is very low-key. Like the other reviewer I found almost everything closed - churches, castle, munition depot. The uniformity of the townscape however is pleasant enough. I also walked across to the Fort St. Luzia, on the opposite hill. The gates were open and two men were working there. No ticket office however, and I just walked around on my own for a while. From here there are good views on the fortifications around Elvas.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
I just got back from Elvas on a day trip from Evora.
At the moment, there are buses between Evora and Elvas, though few. I took the 9 am bus to Elvas and the 4 pm one back. The bus is the one that goes between Evora and Badajoz everyday.
Everything seems to be closed today, or at least they only opened in the morning. It is a public holiday here. The streets were really quite empty but that suited me fine. There were also very few tourists.
I managed to walk around the city along the walls or the ditches. The walls were well-preserved. I also walked around the Fort of St Luzia and the tiny Fortalice of St Mamede. I could not enter both either. The former was supposed to house a military museum, but it was closed. The latter seemed to me to be a private dwelling now and when I got close the dog inside went mad.
The one thing I managed to get into was the tiny Church of the Dominicas. This used to be part of a monastery. The interior walls and covered with gorgeous azulejos.
The aqueduct was nice too and very well-preserved.
I think that Elvas can make a nice day trip from Evora. If only things were opened today. Better get there before it becomes another tourist hotspot!
| Date posted: October 2012|
Have you been to The Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications? Share your experiences!
Add your own review