Elvas is a Portuguese city situated in the District of Portalegre, in the Alentejo region and in the subregion of High Alentejo, with about 15500 inhabitants. It’s the head of the municipality with about 23.000 inhabitants and is subdivided in 11 villages. The municipality is limited north by the municipality of Arronches, northeast by Campo Maior, southeast by Olivença and the Spanish municipality of Badajoz, south by Alandroal and by Vila Viçosa and west by Borba and Monforte. The city of Elvas is at the moment the third biggest city in the Alentejo region, only behind Évora and Beja, being the biggest of the District of Portalegre.

  • 25 April Square, with entrance of the historical centre by the viaduct. It has in the middle a fountain of the 18th century that initially was in the Misericórdia Square. It was called Square of the Chafariz de Fora, Fontes Pereira de Mello Square and Salazar Square.
  • Garcia da Orta Avenue received is name in honour of the famous naturalist that was born in the city. Before it was simply called the Assento Wall.
  • Olivença Gates that are part of the 16th century wall. The name indicates the direction of the way to Olivença. Nowadays there are still the Gates of São Vicente da Esquina.
  • Olivença Street, known like this since the construction of the Fernandina wall. In the bottom there was the Olivença Gate (mostly destroyed in the 17th century). Nowadays there is the Olivença Gate in the 16th century wall. Known in 1543 as the better street in Elvas by the travelling archbishop of Lisbon D. Fernando de Menezes.
  • Carreira Street where races were held and the corresponding bets of the city knights when it was still a small square. In the beginning of the 20th century it was called Princess D. Amélia Street as homage to her when she visited the city. Here was situated the Church of Nossa Senhora dos Bem Casados.
  • Republic Square that is the centre of Elvas historical centre. In it are located the Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção, palace like houses with several centuries of existence. When it was elevated to city in the reign of D. Manuel I, much construction was made taking the city to bishop headquarters and considered the fourth biggest city in the country in the end of the 16th century. One of the biggest constructions was the opening of the Nova Square after the construction of the Central Church. From there the Nova square gains importance and becomes the centre of city life. In 1886 it’s called Prince D. Carlos Square and in 1910 it becomes the Republic Square, today a passing location for all tourists.
  • Quartéis Street, open in 1580 for the entrance of D. Filipe I of Portugal that would stay and live in Elvas for a few months, adopting then the name of Nova de São Martinho Street, name that was changed to Nova do Castelo Street, because it led to the castle. In 1655 and 1656 several quarters are built to shelter thousands of soldiers that were already in the city.
  • Corner Doors that are part of the 16th century wall. Also designated Conceição Door and formerly Hangmen Door.
  • The Sanctuary of Senhor Jesus da Piedade that is the centre of one of the biggest pilgrimages in Alentejo, the São Mateus Fair that takes place between 20 and 30 September. Built in 1737, accordingly to the legend, in 1736, the Priest Manuel Antunes, priest of Elvas, while walking in his mule fell twice being pretty shaken up. With difficulty he went to a wooden Cross that existed in the Health place and in his prayers promised he would celebrate a mess and paint the cross. The promise was fulfilled after he got better. A year later, in the Epiphany Day and with many people watching the cross was once again placed and that place became a worship and invocation place for the Senhor Jesus da Piedade. Increasing the popular devotion a niche was built for the image and later on a hermitage.
  • Santa Luzia Fort located in the south part of of Elvas square, 400 metres from the Olivença Door where there was a hermitage of Santa Luzia. It began to be built in 1641 and was concluded in 1687. The fort forms a square of 150 metres and is constituted by several strongholds, ravelins, crowns among other military items.
  • The Fort of Graça, up on the Hill where, since 1482 existed a hermitage to Nossa Senhora da Graça, founded by the great grandmother of Vasco da Gama, was considered fundamental to the closure of the defensive circuit of Elvas. Count Lippe on his own was in charge of designing the fort that was initially built in 1763. The effectiveness of this fort, that englobed around 80 fire mouths and was considered impregnable, required, for its defence 1000 to 1200 soldiers of infantry, 200  gunners 100 miners. Wells surrounding the fortification and subterranean galleries, some of them leading to the exterior of the fortress, are some of the elements that gift the complex defence systems that were designed and can be found at the Lippe Fort. In fact it is a master piece, considered a maximum exponent of military architecture of the 18th century. It was once said that the art of fortifying was depleted here completely.
  • The Monument to the Battle of Elvas Lines was erected in 1659 to commemorate the Portuguese victory in the Battle of Elvas Lines over the Spanish troops, a monument in honour to those who fought and died in defence of the country. In the 17th century, Elvas is once again a confrontation spot between Spain and Portugal. After the victory of Restoration in 1640, our country was hoping a Spanish invasion. The new fortified Elvas was now ready for war. In 1657 the enemy army makes considerable losses to the Elvas inhabitants, Vila Viçosa and Mosaraz. After several assaults in Badajoz the Portuguese army is forced to retreat. In 22nd of October 1658 Elvas is besieged by D. Luiz of Haro. André de Albuquerque and Afonso Furtado went towards Estremoz to organize a help army. Hunger and despair invaded the population, the wounded were thousands. The siege continued. On 11th January of 1659 a reinforcement leaves Elvas, composed of 8000 infantry soldiers divided in 16 squads, commanded by the cavalry generals André de Albuquerque and of Infantry Rodrigo de Castro and the Mesquitela Count. In the morning of 14th January of 1659 the battle starts and lasted many hours until the enemy lines were cut and the enemy defeated. The Portuguese victory stopped the on-going of Spanish troops in Portuguese territory.
  • The Amoreira Aqueduct, together with the fortifications is the great symbol of Elvas. Its construction was due to water supply problems from which the city was suffering. It is a 7054 meters construction from the amoreira to the wall, goes 450 metres to the village fountain, in the Misericórdia Square where the water appeared in 1622. The 1113 metres of the St. Francis valley are of great beauty. Four orders of arches with 31 metres high, subterranean galleries going to 6 metres of depth and 843 arches in its way. It was an expensive and long construction. From the water coin to the fee of 10 “cruzados” for those who missed the Corpo de Deus procession, everything reverted to the construction.
  • The Misericórdia Square, where the Misricórdia Church is located and part of the building of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia  of Elvas with around 500 years, as also one of the  five existent palaces in the city. From here was removed the Misericórdia Fountain that exists today in the 25th April Square. The name comes from the Santa Casa da Misericórdia existent there since the 16th century.
  • St Francis Street, named like this because it had in the Ferdinand fortification in the bottom of the street there was the St. Francis Door and a small hermitage with the image of this saint. It was once called the Corredoura Street, the Bom Sangue Street, the Porta do Bispo Street, the João Fangueiro Street, the André Lopes Garro Street, the António Valladares Street or the Francisco Zagallo Street.

The typical Alentejo gastronomy with olives, “enchidos”, cheeses, asparagus omelet, ham, “pezinhos de coentrada”, dogfish soup, “sopa da panela”, “açorda”, gazpacho, mint soup, the fish dishes with “coentrada” dogfish, fried dogfish, and the meat dishes such as lamb “ensopado”, the “cozido de grão à alentejana”, the roasted rabbit in clay, the “burras assadas”, the “migas à alentejana”, and finally the sweets with highlight to the regional sweet, the  “Sericaia”, the “Pão de Rala”, the “Encharcada”, the Honey Cake and the “Arroz doce”.

The wines of the region are also highlighted as an option of great quality and particularity in a well-known region for the election of its crops.

For other useful information and details check the website: www.cm-elvas.pt

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