Archive for January, 2014

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Juromenha has a relatively remote location in Southern Portugal. It’s a 2,5 hours drive from Lisbon, and a few dozen kilometers from Évora. It has been inhabited at least since the 9th Century and in the 10th Century there was an Arab castle on the spot. It was conquered by the Christians led by the first king of Portugal – Dom Afonso Henriques – in 1167, and then lost again to the Muslims in 1191. Only in 1242 was taken by the Portuguese for good.

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In 1312 the castle was totally renovated, entering a phase of decay from the 16th Century. Only in the late 17th Century the castle regained its strategical significance, playing an important role during the long war (Guerra da Restauração) between Portugal and Spain. Most of what we can see on the spot these days was built in that period. It was in 1640 – the year the war started – that was decided to rebuilt the fortress. There were 3 proposals, being the winner the one presented by the Dutch clerical Cosmander. This was the most elaborated and complex design. However the works came to a stalemate and another of the candidates, the French Nicolas de Granges got the job.  In 1659 an explosion in the powder storehouse caused the death of a few men and damaged the structure of the buildings.

Meanwhile the French switched sides and led the Spanish artillery during the attack of 1662, when the fortress was temporarily lost.

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Located in a borderland it change hands quite often. Only in 1808 was finally taken by the Portuguese. Since then it lost its importance and became gradually a ruin. In 1920 was officially abandoned. In 1950 the Portuguese government (Direcção-Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais) invested in the renovation of the fortress with the works being done until 1990. Which is strange because one won’t notice much of this on the site.

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Although it’s a bit far from the main cities, it’s not hard to get there. Juromenha is also a village and there are proper roads leading to the location. The fortress is completely abandoned and wide open. Just use the main gate and enter. Lots to explore there. The view is breathtaking. Enjoy!

To find it, just Google Earth: Juromenha, Portugal. The fortress location is obvious. Nearby Urbex site: Forte da Graça, Elvas.

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