The fortress of of Almeida is perched high on a plateau over the Coa river, guarding the main road from northern Spain. like it's sister Elvas in the south, these fortresses were constructed soon after Portugal regained it's independence from Spain in the mid 17th century. An investment to make sure that affairs stayed that way.The same facts on the ground applied once you threw Napoleon and the French into the mix 150 years later, so that the two corridors (Almeida-Ciudad Rodrigo and Elvas-Badajoz) became the scene of some of the major battles and sieges of the Peninsular War
As with most of this region, both sides of the Spanish-Portuguese border is made up of poor farmland, small villages and allot of dry stone walls. Above you can see the road leading up to Almeida after the short drive from Fuentes de Onoro, through the border post at Vilar Formoso. You can just make out the Glacis surrounding the fortress.
Inside the walls
The main square.
Looking south to the sections of the ramparts that were damaged in the 1810 explosion
You can still see some of the damage at the back of the Ravelin below.
Here you can see the remains of the medieval castle (which was the arsenal/gun powder store) which disintegrated during the first French siege. This was the magazine was housed that was hit by the stray French shell. The foundations are still clear, and the it looks like somebody cut the top of the building off with a hot knife. Apparently it looks little changed since the time of the explosion.
You can still see in other sections of the fortress not touched by the explosion how impressive the defences are. In most respects it is a classic Vauban like fortress.
The town is worth a visit, but you’ll need a car (actually, you’ll pretty much need a car to visit most of the sites listed). The small town within the walls, that again, like Ciudad Rodrigo, is largely untouched since the Napoleonic period (apart from the rebuilding after 1810). There is also a small military museum which I was told is supposed to be very good (as related to me by the curator of the Museum in Vimeiro).It was closed during my visit.