Unesco World Heritage Site Challenge: Garrison Border town of Elvas and its Fortifications

This site in Portugal, close to the Spanish border, only became a designated Unesco site in 2012 due the value of the extensive fortifications which took place between the 17th and 19th centuries. Historically, this area was a key point of border guard for crossing between Portugal’s capital Lisbon and Spain’s capital Madrid. The Garrison Town of Elvas became fortified extensively from the 17th to the 19th centuries to become the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world, with outlying forts built on the surrounding hills (one of which can be seen in the distance on the photograph below).

Elvas unescoAside from the fortifications, the other important aspect of this settlement are the remains of the  the 7km-long Amoreira Aqueduct which was built in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This was a key feature of the settlements which enabled the ability to withstand a relatively lengthy siege.

Unesco Elvas

Unesco elvasThe Unesco site includes seven components:

  • the Historic Centre
  • the Amoreira Aqueduct
  • the Fort of Santa Luzia, and the covered way linking it to the Historic Centre,
  • the Fort of Graça,
  • the Fortlets of São Mamede, São Pedro and São Domingos.

Unesco elvasThe historic centre of Elvas with its castle, remnant walls and civil and religious buildings demonstrates the incorporation into the major fortification works of the Portuguese War of the Restoration period (1641-1668.). The extent of the fortification, and the star shaped patterns they make in the ground become clearer when looking from above.

unesco elvas

unesco elvas

unesco elvas

unesco elvasYou can find out more about the Garrison border town of Elvas on the Unesco website here.

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