Classified as a historical village, Almeida is a fortified town that, when seen from the air, has all the appearance of a 12-pointed star, this being the number of bastions and ravelins enclosing a space with a perimeter of 2500 metres. This remarkable fortress was built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, around a mediaeval castle, in what amounted to a very important place for the strategic defence of the region, since it was situated on a plateau roughly 12 km from the border with Spain, as defined by the Treaty of Alcanices in 1297, which was the date when Almeida first became Portuguese.
Almeida is one of the finest examples of a ramparted fortification still standing in Portugal, of which the most typical features were the ashlar masonry walls surrounded by a vast moat that made it difficult for invaders to enter, the strategically placed bastions that made it possible to keep a close watch over the whole of the surrounding territory, the three arched gateways in the form of a tunnel, the false doors designed to fool invaders, and the underground casemates equipped with everything that was necessary for survival in the event of war and which could be used as a bunker to provide shelter for the whole of the local population.
Over the centuries, Almeida was the site of a number of hard-fought struggles, particularly during the seventeenth-century War of Restoration (when the Spanish were definitively removed from the Portuguese throne) and the French invasions in the nineteenth century, when the town was laid siege to by Napoleon's troops for a long period, its castle and part of its walls being seriously damaged by the explosion of an enormous quantity of gunpowder kept in the ammunition stores, which led to its eventual surrender.
Inside the fortress walls, it is worth taking some time to admire the harmoniously built houses, as well as the numerous religious and civil buildings scattered around the narrow streets and helping to preserve the atmosphere of earlier times.