The Walls of Elvas are a set of fortifications that surround the town of Elvas, which is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The walls were built during the 17th century to protect the town from Spanish invasion during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668).
The Walls of Elvas are considered to be one of the finest examples of military architecture in Europe. They cover an area of about 10 kilometers and include 12 bastions, 5 bulwarks, 3 gates, and a number of smaller defensive structures. The walls were designed to be highly defensible, with deep ditches, thick walls, and strategic locations for artillery.
In 2012, the Walls of Elvas were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Fortifications of the Garrison Town of Elvas. The UNESCO designation recognized the Walls of Elvas as an outstanding example of a military fortification system and a testament to the history of Portugal and the region of Alentejo.
Today, the Walls of Elvas remain largely intact and are a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the walls and bastions on foot, taking in panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. The walls also host various cultural events throughout the year, including music concerts, exhibitions, and reenactments of historical battles.
Visiting Walls of Elvas
Duration: 20 minutes
Tours and Activities from Elvas
City Walls in Évora
The walls of Evora are a remarkable feature of the city, transporting visitors to ancient times. Designated as a National Monument in Portugal since 1922, they form part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the historic centre of Evora.
Unlike many other Portuguese cities, Evora has managed to preserve its old walls almost intact over the centuries. The construction of the walls was ordered by King Afonso IV in the 15th century and comprises towers and walls that define the medieval city limits. Notable towers include Torre da Rampa dos Colegiais, Baluarte de São Bartolomeu, Jardim Público de Évora, Portas de Aviz, and those near Convento do Calvário and between the Baluarte do Conde de Lippe and Quartel de Cavalaria.
The Evora Walls, also known as “Cerca Romana” or Roman Enclosure, are a military defence structure built over many centuries. The oldest wall dates back to the 3rd century during the Romanization period and covers an area of about 10 hectares, stretching nearly 2 km around the high part of the city where the Evora Cathedral stands.
The historic centre of Evora, still the political, administrative, economic, and social centre of the city, is well-defined by the outer wall. The defensive system comprises two lines of walls constructed in different periods. The first wall, known as “Cerca-velha,” is a Roman-medieval construction characterized by various towers of different shapes and strategically positioned over the main transport routes. The second wall, known as “Cerca-nova,” is of medieval construction from the 16th century and has been reinforced and strengthened over time with advanced bastions.
The walls of Evora have undergone various changes and restorations by different peoples, including Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Medieval Portuguese. They have served as fortified defence lines and adapted for the use of artillery from the 16th century onward. Notably, the Torre Quadrangular or Square Tower, attributed to the Visigoth king Sisebuto responsible for the wall’s construction, is actually of late Roman construction in the 3rd century.
Although little is known about the structure of the walls during the Islamic period, some traces remain on the back of the Cathedral and in the Evora Roman Temple. Visitors can experience the walls’ magnificence by walking around its entire perimeter, which offers a close-up view of the different styles and alterations made over time. Visitors can park their cars in one of the many exterior car parks in Evora and enter the city centre through one of its doors, taking a relaxing and enjoyable hike.
Visiting Evora walls
Address: Muralhas de Évora, Beco da Horta da Porta, Evora, Portugal
Duration: 20 minutes
Tours and Activities from Évora
Muralhas de Guimaraes
City Gate and City Walls in Guimarães
The Muralhas or Walls of Guimaraes were built around the 9th century. The first part to be walled was the upper city or village, called Vila do Castelo. Construction of the wall started in the reign of D. Afonso III and was completed in the reign of D. Dinis. The wall stretched about two kilometres and had defensive towers in between. There were eight gates and of the eight or nine towers I think one still survives in some form. Until the 14th century Guimaraes was still made up of two villages, and it was some time later on that it became a single city, due to these defensive walls. It had eight gates known as ‘Ports’, three of them with a tower, and three turrets and two turrets.
You can walk along the top of the old walls for a short distance, and it is a pleasant way to survey a part of the town. This part of the walls also shows the Porta do Burgo.
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