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Elvas Granted UNESCO World Heritage Site Status
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (better known as UNESCO) has included the garrison border town of Elvas and its fortifications in its new World Heritage list for 2012.
According to UNESCO the site, which was extensively fortified from the 17th to 19th centuries, represents the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world and within its walls the town contains barracks and other military buildings as well as churches and monasteries.
While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10th century A.D, its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640 and the design by Dutch Jesuit Padre João Piscásio Cosmander represents the best surviving example of the Dutch school of fortifications anywhere.
The site also contains the Amoreira Aqueduct, built to enable the stronghold to withstand lengthy sieges, often from neighbouring Spain. With its 843 arches, the aqueduct was begun in 1498 and is one of the most impressive of its kind in southern Europe.