The Route of the Frontier Fortifications between Spain and Portugal
The name of this route refers to a wide border territory that extends to the west of the province of Salamanca in Spain and Portugal. The defense of such areas motivated the construction of a series of fortified towns.
The architectural characteristics of these fortresses are those of the fortified structures that developed in Europe in the XVII and XVIII centuries as a suitable defensive model for cities, enclaves and fortified towns. Start your itinerary in Ciudad Rodrigo around San Felices de los Gallegos, where the remains of a medieval fortress are located. Later you will come to castro de Yecla de Yeltes, where you will encounter a splendid defensive construction from the Iron Age.
To continue the route you will need to return south toward Villar de la Yegua and Villar de Ciervo. We soon arrive at the river Águeda and a recommended stop at the Archaeological Site of Siega Verde where we encounter magnificent paleolithic cave paintings and there is a classroom-museum.
The jewel of the route is located in Aldea del Obispo, maybe the best example of fortified military architecture of the western part of the peninsula: el Fuerte de la Concepción -Fortress of the Conception-. This defensive complex of the XVII and XVIII centuries displays in its different parts all the beauty and strength that allowed it to withstand conflicts with neighbouring Portuguese and French invaders.
A road from the nearby Val de la Mula leads us to Portugal, where we can see similar Portuguese military constructions. It is well worth making a trip to Almeida, Pinhel and Castelo Rodrigo, three fortified towns that once had great strategic importance.
Almeida is a fine example of a buttress system, in perfect state of conservation, integrated within the life and culture of the local inhabitants. The characteristic irregular star-shaped walls have 12 points and a total perimeter length of 2.5 km. Visitors may walk along the top of the walls, in memory of the former military routines. The mediaeval origin of the castles in Pinhel and Castelo Rodrigo, is still evident in their fortified systems, although the castles have been subject to subsequent alterations. During the trip, visitors will be able to appreciate the difference landscape views from the top of these privileged belvederes.
After your visit you may choose to return to Ciudad Rodrigo and conclude the route by visiting the city. Walk along the city walls and enjoy the moats, bridges, etc. A good place to finish your visit is the Centre of Interpretation of the Fortresses located at one of the guard posts. It would be an excellent way to top off the itinerary.