Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Recently, on my way to a family holiday in Portugal, I had a few days free before meeting up with relatives. Looking at the map I realised several of the key Peninsular War battlefields could be covered in the short time available. Starting in Lisbon I made straight for the Spanish border and the battlefield of Albuera, stopping the night in Elvas.

Elvas is a short distance from Badajoz,and as such represents one of the two key routes between Spain and Portugal,the other being the Ciudad Rodrigo-Almeida axis in the north of the country. It’s not hard to understand how a majority of the battles and campaigning took place around these sites, as control of both routes could either ensure successful defence of Portugal for the British, prior to any invasion of Spain, or visa versa for the French.

The fortress at Elvas was constructed shortly after Portugal regained her independence from Spain in the 1640’s, and subsequently added to in the following decades. It resembles a classic Vauban fortress, similar in size to it’s the northern fortress of Almeida. This was Wellingtons base for many of the southern campaigns and was never taken by the French. The walls are impressive, and command most of the surrounding countryside. Two hills outside the town walls were also fortified to ensure the towns’ security (both of which still belong to the Portuguese army).

Within the town you can find the British cemetery, containing many graves of soldiers from Wellington’s army, especially a large number of dead from the Battle of Albuera, and a commemoration memorial.

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