Elvas is a city of 23,000 people (2011) in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Elvas is among the finest examples of intensive usage of the trace italienne (star fort) in military architecture. The "Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications" is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Elvas (EHL-vuhsh, /ˈɛɫ.vɐʃ/) lies on a hill 8 km (5.0 mi) northwest of the Guadiana river. The 6-km-long Amoreira Aqueduct supplies the city with pure water; it was begun early in the 15th century and completed in 1622. For some distance it includes four tiers of superimposed arches, with a total height of 40 m (130 ft).
It was wrested from the Moors by Afonso I of Portugal in 1166 but was temporarily recaptured before its final occupation by the Portuguese in 1226. In 1570 it became an episcopal see, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Elvas, until 1818. The late Gothic Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, which has many traces of Moorish influence in its architecture, dates from the reign of Manuel I of Portugal (1495–1521).
It was defended by seven bastions and the two forts of Santa Luzia and the Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort. From 1642 it was the chief frontier fortress south of the Tagus, which withstood sieges by the Spanish in 1659, 1711 and 1801. Elvas was the site of the Battle of the Lines of Elvas in 1659, during which the garrison and citizens of the city assisted in the rout of a Spanish Army. The Napoleonic French under Marshal Junot occupied it from March to August 1808 during the Peninsular War. The fortress of Campo Maior, 15 km (9.3 mi) to the northeast, is known for its Napoleonic era siege by the French and relief by the British in 1811, an exploit commemorated in a ballad by Sir Walter Scott.
The nearest regional airport is near Badajoz across the Spanish border.
Elvas train station is 3 km outside the city centre. There is one daily train connection from Lisbon by changing at Entroncamento with a total journey time of 4½ hours (€15.60). The train continues to Badajoz, Spain.
It's 200 km from Lisbon.
All sights inside the city walls can be easily reached on foot.
Elvas is very close to Badajoz, Spain and has been fortified at different times. That makes it worth while to wander round looking at the work of different periods.
- 1 Amoreira Aqueduct (Aqueduto da Amoreira). The 16th-century aqueduct is a great architectural view - five stories in parts - and it's staggering to see how narrow was its channel. Free.
- 2 Castle of Elvas (Castelo de Elvas), Rua da Parada do Castelo 4-8, ☏ . Tu–Sa 09:00–18:00. Fortified castle for defensive purposes. Provides panoramic views of the city and surroundings.
- 3 Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort (Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça), Alcáçova (3 km uphill from the city centre), ☏ . Tu–Su 10:00–17:00. One of the two fortresses outside the city, with multiple layers of defensive walls. Located on a large hill it provides great views back to Elvas and over to Spain, especially from the balcony of the governor's palace. €5 adult, €2.50 reduced.
- 4 Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção), Praça da República. Manueline-style cathedral on the main square.
- 5 Santa Luzia Fort (Forte de Santa Luzia) (1 km from the city centre), ☏ . Tu 13:00–17:00, W–Su 10:00–17:00. One of the two fortresses outside the city walls.
- 1 Guest house Garcia de Orta, Avenida de Garcia da Orta 3A, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 SL Hotel Santa Luzia, Avenida de Badajoz (Assunção), ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Hotel Dom Luis Elvas, Avenida de Badajoz, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 85 rooms with private bathrooms. Garden, outdoor swimming pool, bar with terrace, 24-hour front desk, living room, daily newspapers
- 4 Camping Os Anjos (campismo rural), Estrada da Senhora da Saúde, Campo Maior (20 km (12 mi) from Elvas), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: before 21:00, check-out: 12:30. First campsite in Portugal, over the Spanish border, 14 km (8.7 mi) from Badajoz.