The city of Elvas, which lies at the borders of rivers Caia and Guadiana that separate Portugal from its neighboring country Spain, is a very important city eversince. Its strategic geographical location made the city vulnerable to invasions and military attacks that a need to strengthen the city’s defensive system was enormous! This has led to the construction of various forts and bulwarks around the city.
The main square in Elvas
THE AMOREIRA AQUADUCT
The Amoreira Aquaduct, which was already visible even from a distance of about 2 kilometers, greeted us upon entering the city of Elvas. As such, it is only fitting that it is the civil symbol of the city. With a length of 7504 meters and a maximum height of 31 meters, the aquaduct is the most important example of hydraulic architecture in the country, supplying water coming from Amoreira dam to the city center. Its construction started in 1537 but it was past in 1622 that water finally flowed along the aquaduct.
This magnificent architectural work is really amazing! It reminded us of the aquaduct in Segovia (Spain). It took a very intelligent engineer and skilled workers to build such a magnificent structure, considering that there were little mechanical machines available in the early times.
THE FORTS OF ELVAS
1. CITY BULWARKED FORTS
After walking along the aquaduct, for as far as we could, we entered the fortified city of Elvas by using the old gate, the Corner Gates. These gates are remarkable due to the bright yellow and white painted walls and the unique drawbridge.
Elvas , listed at UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the first frontier city to be fortfified permanently after the independence. The fortress, which surrounds the city, built between 1645 and 1653, is composed of 7 bastions and 4 halfbastions. And together, with the Forte de Gracia, it is one of the largest and most preserved bastion fortifications in the world. Its massive great walls are evidence that Elvas was once an important stronghold in the past.
2. FORTE DE GRAÇA
We have seen an aerial picture of the fort at the tourist office. We were impressed by it and also upon recommendations of two enthusiast Elvasians, we decided to visit it. We drove there with our camper. The road was narrow and steep, but there are parking facilities by the fort.
The Forte De Gracia (Fort of Gracia), which is also known as Nossa Sehnora da Gracia Fort located a little about 1.5 kilometer outside the fortified city of Elvas, is without doubt, the best fort we have ever visited! It was so impressive, massive, and even majestic! It was a perfecdt example of genious engineering work and military architectural defense sytem. The fort which was built from 1763 to 1792, lies at one of the highest point in the region.
Hans and I roamed around this gigantic fort for over 3 hours, admiring its construction, , getting lost in the underground barracks and its endless and winding alleys and corridors and touching the more than 4-meter thick walls of the fortifications, walking on the ramparts and admiring the spectacular views we had – views of the city of Elvas, the aquaduct, the Sta. Luzcia Fort, and even the far city of Badajoz (Spain), and visiting the Chapel and the majestic Governor’s House and standing on its balcony while enjoying the views around us!
Entry to the fort is 5 euro per person. Hans had 50% discount because he is a senior citizen.
Mix-Parking By the Aquaduct
Coordinates : N : 38.87889 W: 7.1725
It is an spacious free mix-parking located just outside the city center, near the Amoreira aquaduct. Old city is about 300 meters. There are no other facilities.
Our customary pictures together (left, Forte de Graca and right, Aquaduct)