DOC100/12340 - Airview of Almeida, Beira በ quadralectics
Of Almeida, José Saramago wrote: ... is as much a museum piece as a halberd or an harquebus ... with its sober calm air. Almeida boasts a beautifullly preserved fortress in the form of a 12 pointed star, a Dutch design influenced by the French military architect, Vauban. It also boasts a very special place in the annals of the history of the Peninsular War. The French Army was narrowly defeated at Talavera in July 1809 and it was not until 1810 that the French under the command of Marshal André Masséna decided that the only way to defeat the Anglo-Portuguese armies was to attack them within Portugal. They attacked the Spanish at CIudad Rodrigo and the Spanish lasted 5 weeks before admitting defeat on 10 July 1810. The French then engaged the British rearguard under Captain Craufurd at a bridge on the RIver Côa. The English had a lucky escape and managed to reach Almeida. British Brigadier William Cox commanded 5,000 troops and had at his disposal 96 artillery pieces. The fortress was capable of holding out for months. Unfortunately, its defenders were never put to the test. Only 3 days into the siege a French shell ignited spilt powder which in turn ignited the powder magazine which sent the castle, the cathedral, half of the town and 700 Portuguese and British soldiers sky high. Even so, Cox did not want to surrender but Portuguese officers asked for terms from the French and the people of the town demanded the fortress be surrended. The senior Portuguese officer was later court martialled in Lisbon and executed. Perhaps this explains the lack of pride the Almeidense have for their past.
My 1994 Rough Guide to Portugal reported that tourism was catching up with the place and that the new Pousada, opened in 1986 had brought a stream of rich tourists and foreign ministers to fork out more than a villager´s weekly earnings to ride in a souped-up pony cart . And that the number of cafés where people paid through the nose for a coffee on the balcony overlooking the humble dwellings below had risen from 3 to over a dozen. It must have been a very short lived phenomenon: when we visited Almeida again earlier this year, the old Pousada has been freed from the chain and is now a hotel where the staff were very bitter about the changes and the lack of visitors. I do not know either where those dozen cafés are. We had to ask where we could find one and eventually found a small place with sitting room for about 8 people. The coffee was good and the people were friendly but surprised to see two visitors wandering around their town in January. Ciudad Rodrigo, the sister town in Spain, was lively, full of information and proud of its heritage.
Portugal has a great deal to be proud of and one of the most touching things I have read recently is in Barry Hatton´s excellent book, The Portuguese: A Modern History, is the story of his eldest Portuguese-born daughter that he was writing a book she said, Oh dad, don´t make us out to be a bunch of yokels. That´s what everyone thinks of us. Mr Hatton believes she had a point, many Portuguese would agree with a certain pride that the description fitted.
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Fig. 31 in:
GUTKIND, E.A. (1967). Urban Development in Southern Europe: Spain and Portugal. International History of City Development, Vol. III. The Free Press, New York/Collier-MacMillan Limited, London. LCCCN 64-13231
Praça-forte de Almeida is a tourist attraction, one of the Forts in Almeida, ፖርቱጋል. It is located: 630 km from Valladolid, 820 km from ማድሪድ, 890 km from ሊዝቦን. Read further