Elvas Mini Guide
What Can you Tell me About Elvas?
From the early times of the Celts and Lusitanians, Elvas has been an important settlement protecting nascent farmers from its lofty position on one of the few hills on the Alentejo plain. Eventually its defensive position grew in importance, initially against attacks from the Moors and then from Spain. The remains of seven bastions and two forts crown the hill, evidence of the successful defence against the Spanish. Today, the city has reverted to the fruits of nature once more to supply the populace with a source of income with plums and olives growing as far as the eye can see whilst grapes form the raw material for the brandy that is distilled locally.
How Can I Get to Elvas?
Elvas can be reached by flying into Badajoz Airport
, eleven miles away, or by using Beja Airport, twenty miles away. Badajoz airport receives mostly domestic flights but with international routes to Rome
whilst Beja has a route to London Heathrow
. Badajoz has the benefit of a direct train route into Elvas whereas flying into Beja means a complicated bus journey or a hire car to get you to Elvas.
What is There to See and Do in Elvas?
Top of most people’s list is the four mile long aqueduct which took nearly 200 years to complete and was finished in the 17th century. The aqueduct is all the more incredible for its narrow width but it still brings clean water into the city for people to use today. Visit too, the forts of Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça in the city where you can picture yourself as a defender facing the might of the Spanish army. With a hire car you can also visit Campo Maior whose siege and relief inspired Walter Scott to wax lyrical in a ballad.
What can I buy as Gifts for Friends Back Home?
The gift packed products of Elvas’ agriculture make wonderful gifts to take home. Boxes of freshly dried prunes, especially the organic ones, are popular as are the many products made from the local olive oil, including soaps, body lotions and the oil itself. The locally produced brandy, especially the plum variety, is excellent too.
What is There That’s Special to eat in Elvas?
There are many local dishes that are excellent. Plums go very well with strong game and they are either served as a chutney alongside roast suckling pig or as part of casseroles of rabbit or wildfowl. Accompanied by a glass of local brandy or finished off with the liqueur-like plum brandy, you’ll leave the restaurant with your appetite well satisfied.
What is the Entertainment Like in Elvas?
In many of the inland towns and cities, entertainment is low key compared to the coastal resorts. Elvas is no exception and a walk down the streets in the evening will see families and friends enjoying a good meal together or chatting over beer or wine in a bar.
The story of Elvas is inextricably linked with that of its close neighbour, Spain
. Often volatile, but mostly friendly, the relationship has shaped the city. It was a fortress city that withstood several attacks from Spain but capitulated against Napoleon’s army in the 19th century.
Today, it commands only a great view over the agricultural lands of the Alentejo with the mile after mile of olive and plum orchards. Processing the plums into prunes occupies much of the workforce together with the production of Portuguese brandy and the local distinctive pottery.