Located on the hill of Gardón, a few meters from the Turones River, near the border with Portugal, on the outskirts of the town of Aldea del Obispo in Salamanca, near Ciudad Rodrigo, is one of the most spectacular military fortifications in Spain. The first fortification was begun in the 17th century, specifically on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception in 1663, by order of the Duke of Osuna to house the armies that were to recover the throne of Portugal for King Felipe IV. A few months after having begun the works and before the defeat of the troops of Osuna infringed by the Portuguese, in the battle of Castelo Rodrigo, June 8, 1664, Felipe IV dismissed the duke and ordered to demolish the building.
The new fort, with its particular design, dates from the 18th century. It was Felipe V who saw the need to build a line of fortifications to protect the Spanish border from the new forts that had been erected in Portugal. The Royal Fort of the Conception witnessed for two centuries the conflicts that took place on the border between Castilla and Portugal, but its maximum prominence came during the War of Independence in the 19th century; during this time it changed its inhabitants several times, the French, in their attempt to annex Portugal, and the English, who were allies of the Portuguese. In one of these battles, and to prevent it from falling back into French hands, General Crawford, an English officer, in his retreat and by order of the Duke of Wellington, blows up the Fort of the Conception with gunpowder. Years later the Royal Fort of the Conception became private property and its stones served as a quarry for the constructions in the area.
After the consolidation of the ruins of the Fort and the restoration of some of its areas for hotel use, this grandiose defensive complex is fighting against the passing of time to maintain its peculiar structure. Around the parade ground there were four bastions and ravelins, moats, a drawbridge, parapets, warehouses, a chapel, cisterns, a hospital, the governor's house..., a covered path served to access the Fort of San José, located a short distance from the main enclosure and which was the first line of defence; on both sides of the covered path and between the fort and the fort a cavalry barracks was built, two circular buildings capable of housing ninety horses with their riders.
Each of the three components of the Fort of the Conception, the central space, the cavalry barracks and the Fort of San José, had their own offensive and defensive independence. In the midst of so much military construction, the work of the artist Manuel de Larra Churriguera stands out, the main door where the royal coat of arms is displayed. The Royal Fort of La Concepción has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest and to complete your visit and get a better idea of what it looked like originally it is interesting to see the scale model of the fortification which is in the Interpretation Room located in the Main Square of Aldea del Obispo.
The areas of the Fort that were still standing were also used to keep livestock, grow mushrooms or as a grazing area. In addition, the residents of Aldea del Obispo traditionally came to eat hornazo on Monday of water and to celebrate the town's festivities.
The shape of the floor plan of the Royal Fort of the Conception, also known as the Fort of Osuna, which is a construction that belongs to bastioned military architecture, can only be appreciated either on the plans or by aerial photography. The fort could accommodate up to 1500 infants and 200 horsemen. The fort had circular listening wells in each ravelin and a vaulted ceiling, which were used so that the soldiers on duty could hear if cavalry were approaching.
It is said that at the main gate, in addition to the coat of arms and a bascule bridge that connected the parade ground with one of the ravelins, there was a clock that could have been part of a booty obtained in one of the battles against the Almeida fortification.
From Aldea del Obispo we must follow the road that connects this town with the Portuguese villages of Vale da Mula and Almeida, shortly after leaving Aldea del Obispo is where we will find a detour to the fortification.
In the vicinity of the fort we will find, well signposted, the parking for visitors.
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