the village of Almeida it’s one of the 12 historic villages of Portugal and its strategic geographic position made it a battlefield and an important stronghold, very rich from the point of view of military architecture.
Its origin dates back to 61 BC, having been occupied by the Romans and then by the barbarians. The Arabs called it Al-Mêda (the Table), Talmeyda or Almeydan, a designation that evolved into Almeida.
Its hexagonal, star-shaped layout is one of its main features, as are its double doors, bulwarks and casemates.
10 good reasons to go to Almeida
One of the reasons to go to Almeida is, without a doubt, because this is a unique fortress. Around the cities there is a walled belt, made up of gates, bastions and ravelins that are worth visiting and getting to know.
Look for the Storeroom and the Casa da Guarda in the Santa Bárbara ravelin, the double doors of São Francisco da Cruz, the Santo António Double Doors or the Double Revelim / Hospital de Sangue and get to know the many defense mechanisms that these examples of the military architecture guard.
The ruins of Castelo de Almeida are a National Monument, given their historical value. The building was destroyed in 1810, during the Napoleonic invasions, in which Almeida was invaded and came under the control of French troops.
Next to the ruins of the Castle, there is the Clock Tower, which dates from 1830. This is another symbolic point, which is worth visiting and photographing.
Although it is no longer used, this cemetery retains a mysticism of its own, largely due to its setting and romantic gardens.
There is a tomb with an iron heart and, at the entrance, an inspiring sentence can be read: “O you, whoever you are, look at how I am. I was once as you are, and you will be as I am”.
Casa da Roda dos Expostos
The Casas da Roda dos Expostos marked the history of the 19th century and served as a shelter for exposed children, that is, abandoned children. For that reason, this building is also emblematic and full of meaning, as it reflects a reality very marked in time.
This house dates from 1843 and the revolving mechanism is still visible, behind a small door, which was used to place babies and thus hand them over to goodwill and charity, without seeing the face of those who left, nor of those who accepted the exposed.
Casemates/Military Historical Museum
The casemates were war shelters, which served to protect and hide the population during an attack or invasion and there are tunnels, wells and water mines.
These shelters also functioned as a prison and currently house the Historical-Military Museum of Almeida.
The Historical-Military Museum of Almeida is made up of 20 rooms, where one talks, above all, about the military clashes that took place in Almeida. The core is very interactive and has many multimedia features.
In addition, there is no lack of information and objects about the Peninsular Wars, the French invasions and the Siege of Almeida, among other confrontations.
The Mother Church is an old chapel, dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Loreto, although it is currently associated with Nossa Senhora das Candeias.
Another temple there is the Igreja da Misericórdia, a building dating from the 17th century, attached to the old Hospital da Misericórdia, but which is only open to the public on special occasions.
This is one of the most central areas, where the main municipal services operate. The building of the former Town Hall displays the Coat of Arms on the façade, with military representations such as cannons, cannon balls and the war drum.
For those who like animals, namely horses, you can find in Almeida a dirt field (riding ring), where horses are trained.
Nearby, there is a building, next to the bastion of Santa Joana, which keeps the horses in the stables and displays the Royal Arms on its portal. The MTB Center also operates in this riding arena.
Upper Square and Beresford’s Tomb
In the Baluarte de Santa Bárbara (dating from the 17th century and with 23 gunboats), is located the Praça Alta, the highest point of the entire fortress. This point allowed to have a panoramic view and to control any enemy approaches.
There is also a platform for mortar fire and a stone plaque, where the tomb of John Beresford is located, a British officer who led the Portuguese army and who died in 1812, in the French invasions.
For those truly interested in military history, Almeida has CEAMA – Centro de Estudos de Arquitetura Militar. There you can find books and information about the fortress and even get to know the places where the Guard Corps used to be and where there are still traces of stone fireplaces and latrines.