Before the Fort

Since the Fort of Graça is a construction from the second half of the 18th century, the mountain to the North of the city of Elvas, where the fort is located, has a much older human occupation. It would have been occupied, during the Iron Age and thereafter by the Romans, however the construction of the Fort meant cutting the top of the mountain which erased any previous remains.

We know that, in 1370, Catarina Mendes, wife of Estêvão Vaz da Gama, great-grandparents of the navigator Vasco da Gama, sponsored the construction, on this location, of the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Graça. It would have been an interesting Gothic church with a complex that included a cluster, cistern and some accommodations. This church stood here until 1763, the year of the beginning of the construction of the Fort of Graça. However, in the 17th century, this strategic location began to have a military function.

During the Restoration War (1641-1668), the Spanish army built here a small fortification, as a consequence of the siege of the Lines of Elvas. Inside this small fort, two pieces of artillery were placed that would be able to bomb the city. Vestiges of the small fort also remained until 1763, when the great construction also erases them.


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