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"An UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city"

"Uma cidade fortificada Alentejana listada pelo UNESCO"

Elvas: an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city

Discover Elvas, an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city, in the region Alto-Alentejo and near the Spanish border. Elvas played a crucial role in the Portuguese and Spanish history. Its strategic mountain made it a significant military spot. Immerse yourself in the rich history of this small Alentejo city by reading this blog post.


#elvas, #portalegre, #unesco, #alentejo, #altoalentejo, #fortified

Estimated read time: 7 minutes




Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:




58 km

Location keywords:

Alto-Alentejo, Unesco, fortified

A city of many forts

"Strategic military forts"

As already told above, Elvas is a fortified UNESCO World Heritage city in the Alentejo with a strategic location. Close to Spain and higher situated, it was a crucial military place to protect the whole region. Elvas played a vital role in the 17th century Independence War against the Spanish. Numerous forts with a military function were built. These also served as a military base during the 19th century French invasions. So, these buildings already survived many wars and historical facts. Explore the rich history of this city and its historic forts in the text below.

elvas forte santa luzia fortified far view

Fort Nossa Senhora de Graça

"The largest Fort"

2 Forts are possible to visit around the city. Forte Nossa Senhora de Graça is the largest one, at the Northern side. The double walls are very famous and this fort is known as the best preserved of its kind in Europe. From the air, you have a great view on this fort. See the first image below. While the other image is taken from the castle of Elvas.

elvas fort nossa senhora graça fortified unesco city air view alentejo
elvas alentejo forte nossa senhora graça large unesco fort

Fort Santa Luzia

"The southern smaller fort"

At the southern side of Elvas, you discover Forte Santa Luzia. This is smaller as the previous one. But these days, Forte Santa Luzia is the place to be to feel feel more the military history of the whole region of Elvas. A museum where you expire the history is located in this fort. Don't miss it out.

elvas forte santa luzia view unesco
elvas forte santa luzia unesco small fort top mountain

The fortified castle of Elvas

"The military location inside the fortified city"

Finally, we are inside the city boundaries of Elvas. Discover here the castle of Elvas. It is a typical Portuguese castle built on the top of a mountain and with military protection purposes. Unlike castles in other countries, these castles are more as forts, with the lack of splendor and grandeur but with a lot of strength and security. The castle of Elvas is no exception. Its thick walls and large tower show you this fortification to protect both the city and the surrounding region. Take a walk along the castle walls for breathtaking panoramic views over the Alentejo and the two forts located outside of the city center.

Elvas still has a surrounding wall of around 10 km long. Seen from in the air, you get a view that the wall around Elvas and also the 2 forts are built in a star. The star concept makes these forts stronger and is a reason why Elvas is an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city.

elvas fortified castle militar city wall unesco alentejo portugal
elvas castle fortified city wall unesco city militar

A medieval city center

"Charming small streets"

Aside of these forts and the military history, Elvas is a nice place to visit. Like many place in the Portugal, Elvas still has a medieval city center with small winding streets and cobblestones. A charm to walk through these streets. Do it for yourself and decide for yourself. You'll love it.

elvas main square view fortified unesco city center
elvas small street unesco city view alentejo

Don't wait any longer

Now it is time to visit Elvas. Don't wait any longer! Click on the buttons below to find your perfect flights to Portugal and/or hotel in this medieval fortified UNESCO city. Discover the Alentejo. Go for it!

Amoreira Aqueduct

"Water is important for life"

When you arrive in Elvas, you see the impressive aqueduct. But, unfortunately, it is not from the Romans. This aqueduct was built in the 16th - 17th century and designed by the same architect of the aqueduct of Évora and the Torre de Belém.

elvas amoreira unesco city aqueduct water source

More water

"More people, more water"

Initially, Elvas' residents traditionally sourced their drinking water from the episcopal palace water source, dating back to the Moorish era. However, with the growth of the population, this water source became insufficient. So, they needed a good extra water source. A solution for this was the construction of an aqueduct. This impressive aqueduct is 7 km long and counts more than 800 arches. Since 1910 it is classified as a national monument.


"The sweet dessert of the Alentejo"
elvas sericaia serica cerica dessert sweet doce plum food delicious cake

Now it is time to discover some gastronomic delights of the Alentejo region. Because it is known for its exceptional cuisine in Portugal. According the most Potuguese locals, here you find the finest wines and savor the most delicious regional dishes, including the simple but irresistible desserts. One of the most famous Alentejo desserts is Sericaia. Some call it Sericá or Cericá. It is a cake with eggs and cinnamon. The traditional variant originates from Elvas and Vila Viçosa and is topped with a succulent local plum. It is a must-try and so delicious! We love it, you to? We're sure you'll do.

How to reach?

By car

Traveling by car to Elvas is in my opinion the most easy way. Many highways and national roads lead to Elvas. So, you can take a Toll way or a route without paying Toll.

"Lisboa - Évora - Elvas"

From Lisboa, you take the Vasco da Gama bridge and afterwards follow the A6 over Évora to reach Elvas. Keep in mind that this is a Toll-road. I advise you to use Via Verde. If you don't want to pay toll, the N4 national road also is a possible option.

"Portalegre - Elvas"

Elvas is part of the Portalegre district, with the capital Portalegre. Also from here you have good roads to bring you everywhere in the region.


From Elvas, discover the beauty of the nearby Spanish city Badajoz. You drive there in around 30 minutes. Explore also this fascinating city on a day trip. Keep in mind that Badajoz is located in Spain and follows the Spanish timezone. So, it is 1 hour later over there. When you travel back to Portugal, it is possible to have the same time twice a day. Isn't it cool? Experience the unique thrill of time travel when you visit this region.

By bus

Explore Portugal's landscapes traveling by the huge Rede Expressos network, covering almost the whole country. Arrive in Elvas or travel to from the local bus station. Experience the authentic Portuguese way of travel by taking the a bus. It is a must-do for every traveler. Immerse yourself in the local life and travel like the locals do, who frequently rely on this huge bus system. I only can suggest you, traveling in Portugal by a fast bus is something you have to do once.

By train

Elvas features a train station with connections to Lisboa and Entroncamento in the Santarém district. Although it will be a long travel day and there are not so many trains on these routes. Plan your trip by checking the timetables and connections on CP. Get more accurate information and plan your way to Elvas by train.

Also Rome2rio is a good site to see how you can travel. There you get an overview of the travel options and prices for almost each place in the world. Give it a try.

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