municipality and city in Portugal

Elvas is a city of 23,000 people (2011) in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Elvas is among the finest examples of intensive usage of the trace italienne (star fort) in military architecture. The "Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications" is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Elvas (EHL-vuhsh, /ˈɛɫ.vɐʃ/) lies on a hill 8 km (5.0 mi) northwest of the Guadiana river. The 6-km-long Amoreira Aqueduct supplies the city with pure water; it was begun early in the 15th century and completed in 1622. For some distance it includes four tiers of superimposed arches, with a total height of 40 m (130 ft).

It was wrested from the Moors by Afonso I of Portugal in 1166 but was temporarily recaptured before its final occupation by the Portuguese in 1226. In 1570 it became an episcopal see, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Elvas, until 1818. The late Gothic Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, which has many traces of Moorish influence in its architecture, dates from the reign of Manuel I of Portugal (1495–1521).

City streets

It was defended by seven bastions and the two forts of Santa Luzia and the Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort. From 1642 it was the chief frontier fortress south of the Tagus, which withstood sieges by the Spanish in 1659, 1711 and 1801. Elvas was the site of the Battle of the Lines of Elvas in 1659, during which the garrison and citizens of the city assisted in the rout of a Spanish Army. The Napoleonic French under Marshal Junot occupied it from March to August 1808 during the Peninsular War. The fortress of Campo Maior, 15 km (9.3 mi) to the northeast, is known for its Napoleonic era siege by the French and relief by the British in 1811, an exploit commemorated in a ballad by Sir Walter Scott.

Visitor information


Get in


Though Elvas might seem a good jumping off or landing point for cross border travel to the Extremadura region of Spain, it isn't. Cross border transport is woefully inadequate. The only public transport available is a single daily train, consisting of a one coach railcar.

By plane


The nearest regional airport is near Badajoz across the Spanish border. Be aware that there is essentially no public transport between Elvas and Badajoz. You will almost certainly find it more convenient to fly in to Lisbon and either hire a car or catch an intercity bus.

By bus


1 Terminal Rodoviário de Elvas, Rua do Património 1. Just over 1 hour from Évora (adult €11.90, student €10.00) and around 3 hours from Lisbon (adult €17.60, student €14.80).

By train


Elvas train station is 3 km outside the city centre. There is one daily train connection from Lisbon by changing at Entroncamento with a total journey time of 4½ hours (€15.60). The train continues to Badajoz, Spain. This single train a day is the only public transport link between Badajoz and Elvas. Onward connections with Renfe services to/from other destinations in Spain are not guaranteed, and through-ticketing is not possible. The train leaves Elvas for Badajoz at 13:00 Portuguese time, and returns at 16:24 (Spanish time). The journey time is 15 minutes. Remember that Spain is one hour ahead of Portugal. The Renfe trenhotel sleeper service between Madrid and Lisbon was cancelled permanently during the Covid pandemic.

By car


It's 200 km from Lisbon by high quality but tolled autoestrada. From Elvas onwards the road continues to Spain as a high quality toll-free autovía, serving Badajoz and ultimately running all the way to Madrid. As both Portugal and Spain are within both the EU and Schengen area, there are no border formalities.

Get around


All sights inside the city walls can be easily reached on foot.

Map of Elvas

Elvas is very close to Badajoz, Spain and has been fortified at different times. That makes it worth while to wander round looking at the work of different periods.

Amoreira Aqueduct
  • 1 Amoreira Aqueduct (Aqueduto da Amoreira). The 16th-century aqueduct is a great architectural view - five stories in parts - and it's staggering to see how narrow was its channel. Free.    
Castle of Elvas
  • 2 Castle of Elvas (Castelo de Elvas), Rua da Parada do Castelo 4-8, +351 268 626 403. Tu–Sa 09:00–18:00. Fortified castle for defensive purposes. Provides panoramic views of the city and surroundings.    
  • 3 Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort (Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça), Alcáçova (3 km uphill from the city centre), +351 268 625 228. Tu–Su 10:00–17:00. One of the two fortresses outside the city, with multiple layers of defensive walls. Located on a large hill it provides great views back to Elvas and over to Spain, especially from the balcony of the governor's palace. €5 adult, €2.50 reduced.    
  • 4 Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção), Praça da República. Manueline-style cathedral on the main square.    
  • 5 Santa Luzia Fort (Forte de Santa Luzia) (1 km from the city centre), +351 268 628 357. Tu 13:00–17:00, W–Su 10:00–17:00. One of the two fortresses outside the city walls.





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This city travel guide to Elvas is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.