Elvas Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by Cristian_Uluru
  • Elvas, Portugal
    Elvas, Portugal
    by DAO
  • Elvas, Portugal
    Elvas, Portugal
    by DAO

Most Recent Things to Do in Elvas

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    THE WALLS OF ELVAS

    by DAO Written Jan 30, 2013

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    "Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications." That is the way UNESCO lists the amazing and completely impressive fortress walls of Elvas. I stumbled up the walls in my guidebook when i was preparing for a driving holiday of Portugal. The book fell open to a small map of what I thought was a large castle. Then I realised it was not a castle - it was a whole city. It looked absolutely too big to be real on a map. So I resolved to drive and see it for myself. None of the pictures I took can prepare you for the sheer scale, length and width of the walls. They can only be measured in miles or kilometers. When you drive towards it you are on a flat plain. Then your start going up and up. Then you have to drive through multiple sections of impossibly thick walls to find a place to park the car. It would easily take a day or 2 to fully walk the walls. If you really want to see a fortified city - visit Elvas.

    UNESCO explain that Elvas has ".... the largest bulwarked dry-ditch system in the world.". I told you it was big!

    Elvas was a hill settlement captured from the Moors first by King Afonso I of Portugal in 1166. It was lost and retaken a 2nd time in 1226. It wasn't until the 1500's that the real wall building started. A Flemish engineer designed its present star shaped layout. From 1642 until today it has been the main military installation in the southern half of Portugal. Being a border city it duly withstood 2 Spanish sieges in 1658 and 1711. Elvas actually did surrender to the French French in March 1808 during the Peninsular War, but given back 5 months later under the peace accords.

    Elvas and it fortifications are comprised of 7 bastions and 2 forts - Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça. Forte de Graça was completed in in 1792 and has been continuously used as a military base since. So that is why it's off limits when you visit. You still have plenty to see including a military museum at the first fort.

    Elvas, Portugal Elvas, Portugal Elvas, Portugal Elvas, Portugal Elvas, Portugal
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    Nossa Senhora da Conceição Door and Chapel

    by J_Antunes Written Dec 23, 2012

    Nossa Senhora da Conceição is a beautiful and picturesque chapel on top of the city walls of Elvas and over the door of the same name. It is believed it was built in the XVII century and is a charming rounded church.

    Nossa Senhora da Concei����o Nossa Senhora da Concei����o Nossa Senhora da Concei����o Nossa Senhora da Concei����o Nossa Senhora da Concei����o
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    Elvas Castle

    by J_Antunes Written Dec 23, 2012

    The old castle has a long history. It is believed it was built over an old hill fort (castro) that was later romanized.

    It was after the recovery of the town from Moorish occupation that the current castle was built.

    Elvas Castle Elvas Castle Elvas Castle Elvas Castle Elvas Castle
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    Santa Clara Square

    by J_Antunes Updated Dec 23, 2012

    Elvas is the newest World Heritage site in Portugal. It has one this status due to the extensive and impressive set of fortifications that protected this city from foreign invasions.
    One of the most interesting places in Elvas has to be the old Santa Clara square. In here is the “pelourinho”/pillory the symbol of independence of a community but also the place where justice used to be applied often in brutal ways. In many countries of Europe the pillories have been almost erased from the towns but in Portugal most towns still have them. The truth is that since the XV century the use of the pillory for executions in Portugal was rare and was mainly a symbol of status.
    The Santa Clara door is a beautiful entrance in the castle area built in the XIX century. It is also called the door of the Tempre to commemorate the legendary battle between the templars and the moorish held here. It is believed it was through this entrance they were able to invade and conquer the castle.
    Dominicas church is a beautiful church with an interior covered in glazed tiles and dating back to the XVI century. It was built in what used to be a XII century templar church believed to be in the honor of Mary Magdalene. Even today it remains with an unusual octogonal shape. Next to it used to be a convent, but in 1862 it became abandoned when the old nun left so it ended being demolished remaining just the chapel.

    Santa Clara Square Santa Clara Square
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    Elvas Castle

    by gubbi1 Written May 17, 2012

    The castle of Elvas is one of the National Monuments of Portugal and in fact the first building ever declared into this state in Portugal (1906). This oldest military structure of the town was built on roman remains, but after the Christian recapture of Elvas from the Moors the castle was newly set up (1228). Later in the 14th century improvements of the fortifications were carried through. In the 17th century the castle lost its importance.

    Opening times: 9.30 to 13.00 and 14.30 to 17.30 (Monday closed)

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    Forte da Graça

    by gubbi1 Written May 17, 2012

    Outside of town you will find two protecting fortresses that were part of the massive city fortifications that make Elvas to one of most fortificated towns in Europe. One of the two fortresses is the Forte da Graça which sits on a hilltop overlooking the historic Elvas. Its military concept was made of Count Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst zu Schaumburg-Lippe (1724 - 1777) and Guilherme de Valleré, both were experienced military strategists.
    The forte is visible from town and according to the tourism page of Elvas not accessible. Forte da Graça is one part of Elvas' military complex which is proposed for an UNESCO World Heritage.

    Forte da Gra��a, Elvas, PT Forte da Gra��a, Elvas, PT
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    City Gates

    by gubbi1 Written May 17, 2012

    Elvas is a very fortified town and therefore also the city gates are slightly different to those of other towns. I was really impressed of their size, the length and narrowness. Even more surprising was that through it the traffic was going. In front of the gate (outside fro where the photo was taken) the moat is crossed by a bridge.

    Find the location of the city gate linked below.

    City Gate, Elvas, PT
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    Touristic Spots

    by gubbi1 Updated May 16, 2012

    Keep your eyes open when walking through town. There are signs around that tell you information about touristic sites and with it about the history of Elvas. Have a look at the photo to know how the signs look like.

    Info sign, Elvas, PT
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    Elvas Commune Coat of Arms

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    On the side of the Aqueduct you will find a huge coat of arms of the commune of Elvas. I found it very beautiful as it is made of azulejos (tiles). Check out the photo to compare the size of it with the pigeons sitting there.

    Coat of Arms, Elvas, PT Coat of Arms, Elvas, PT
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    Praça da República

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    In the center of the historic Elvas you will find the Praça da República. This is a beautiful town square where you can have a rest of your touristic activities or start off for new explorations in town. Just at the square you will find the Antiga Sé (Old Cathedral). I like the pattern of the pavement on the square. The history of the Praça da República starts already during the reign of Manuel I. when Elvas gained importance. A new square was built around which the administrative and religious life settled. In 1886 the square was renamed to 'Praça do Príncipe D. Carlos' and then in 1910 to 'Praça da República'.

    Pra��a da Rep��blica, Elvas, PT
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    Pelourinho (pillory)

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    In case you did something bad in Elvas' past you would have found yourself at the Pelourinho (pillory). Nowadays it is an interesting example of manueline style. The iron bars are said to be the originals dating back to the 16th century!

    Pelourinho, Elvas, PT
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    Aqueduto da Amoreira

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    The Aqueduct Amoreira was designed by Francisco Arruda. It is not of roman origin, but built between 1537 and 1620. With its length of 8 kilometers and a maximum height of 31 meters it supplied water to the fortified town. This building is really impressive!

    Aqueduto da Amoreira, Elvas, PT Aqueduto da Amoreira, Elvas, PT Aqueduto da Amoreira, Elvas, PT Aqueduto da Amoreira, Elvas, PT
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    Antiga Sé (Old Cathedral)

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    The old cathedral is dedicated to N. Sra. da Assunção and was built in the 16th century. Inside there are some very beautiful golden baroque altars. Impressive is also the golden organ.
    Beside the church there is the museum for sacral art.

    Opening hours:
    10:00 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 18:30 (closed on Mondays and the mornings of Tuesday)

    Antiga S��, Elvas, PT Antiga S��, Elvas, PT Antiga S��, Elvas, PT Antiga S��, Elvas, PT Antiga S��, Elvas, PT
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    Igreja das Domínicas

    by gubbi1 Written May 16, 2012

    The Igreja das Domínicas is one of the sacral highlights of Elvas. It was built in 1543 and belonged to the monastery St. Domingos which was destroyed in the 14th century. The inner shape is octagonal and the walls are entirely covered with azulejos (tiles) of the 17th century.

    Opening times are 10.00 to13.00 and 15.00 to18.30 (closed completely on Monday and the morning of Tuesday)

    Igreja das Dom��nicas, Elvas, PT Igreja das Dom��nicas, Elvas, PT Igreja das Dom��nicas, Elvas, PT Igreja das Dom��nicas, Elvas, PT
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    A break on main square

    by hojasdehierba Updated Oct 30, 2006

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    This is the main square in Elvas. After having visited the town, have a drink sitting at the outside tables of the square cafés. It's not a bad idea to order a pastry. Just have a look around: mainly locals and Spanish people doing some shopping (Elvas is located about 10 kms far from the frontier). You will be surprised when you ask for the bill: we had two cokes, two coffees and one pastry and we paid 4 euros (september 05 prices).

    Esta es la plaza mayor de Elvas. Despues de haber visitado la ciudad, podeis tomar algo sentados en una terraza de los cafes de la plaza. No es mala idea pedir algun pastel. En la plaza vereis gente de Elvas y tambien espanholes haciendo compras (Elvas esta situado a unos 10 kms de la frontera). Te quedaras sorprendido cuando pidas la cuenta: dos cocacolas, dos cafes y un pastelillo y pagamos 4 euros (precios de septiembre de 2005)

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Elvas Things to Do

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