Elvas is a small town and a fortress in the south of Portugal on the Spanish border.
When I visited Elvas I arrived from Caceres (another World Heritage) in Spain driving to Elvas. The difference couldn't be larger. In Caceres the site was hard to find in the maze of small streets in dowtown. No signing to be found anywhere. Mind you Caceres will be Cultural Capital of Europe in 2016, they have a long way to go.
When arriving in Elvas you can't miss this town being a World Heritage Site. On the first round abound you will find the Unesco logo with an abundance of flowers. Elvas became a World heritage in 2013 and they are certainly proud of it. The site consist of 4 great elements, first the old Aquaduct, the walled town of Elvas on a Hill and two fortresses on the hills north and south of Elvas.
I first visited the fortress on the south, The Forte the Santa Luzia. This fortress is now a museum and is carefully restored. You can find showcase dolls dressed in military uniforms on the walls and near the guns. The views over the old town are great and it is easy to understand why the build the fortresses in this place.
The next place I visited was the aquaduct. This seems quite vulnerable to me if there would not be a separate well in the town. The aquaduct is long, high and very well preserved. The old town is a maze with small streets leading up to the top and the castle. Hardly any parking restrictions (sad), so you will see cars everywhere in the small streets. For me a took away a bit of the magic of the white and yellow streets. The views again are breathtakingly beautiful.
The last part I visited was the last part of the site, The Forte the Nossa Señora de Graca. The road towards the fortress is not signposted at all. The rusted military signs warning you to keep out are still there and this gives a spooky feel to the biggest of the fortresses. This fortress is in decay and you are warned not to enter!. The inside is really magical. The military parts are great but there is a real building in the centre with wallpaintings and views, receptions rooms, halls etc. The views from this fortress are the best.
When visiting Elvas do go up the small road to this fortress, take very much care in where you walk and enjoy the grandness of one of the most beautifully fortresses of the 18th century.