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Elvas is one of the main cities of the Alentejo, the county seat, located very near the border with Spain, and soon an important strategic stronghold, built in star-shaped walls.

Elvas lies on a hill 8 km northwest of the river Guadiana. It is defended by seven bastions and the two forts of Santa Luzia and Nossa Senhora da Graça. Its late Gothic cathedral, which has also many traces of Moorish influence in its architecture, dates from the reign of Manuel I of Portugal (1495-1521). A 6 km long 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. The surrounding lowlands are very fertile, and Elvas is known for its olives and plums, the last-named being exported, either fresh or dried, in large quantities. Brandy is distilled and pottery manufactured in the city. The fortress of Campo Maior, 15 km to the northeast, is famous for its siege by the French and relief by the British under Marshal Beresford in 1811, an exploit commemorated in a ballad by Sir Walter Scott. 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. From 1642 until modern times it was the chief frontier fortress south of the Tagus; and it twice withstood sieges by the Spanish, in 1658 and 1711. The French under Marshal Junot took it in March 1808 during the Peninsular War, but evacuated it in August, after the conclusion of the Convention of Sintra.

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Additional Photos by Aires dos Santos (AiresSantos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6708 W: 209 N: 14053] (56155)
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