Badajoz Fortress - History and Facts | History Hit

Badajoz Fortress

Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain

Badajoz Fortress is a 12th century fortification captured by the British during the Peninsula War.

Lucy Davidson

21 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Badajoz Fortress

Badajoz Fortress, or ‘Alcazaba de Badajoz’, is a 12th century Moorish fortification in the city of Badajoz in Spain which now houses the Provincial Archaeological Museum.

History of Badajoz Fortress

The fortress as it now appears was built by the Almohads in the 12th century, though it probably existed from the 9th century, when Badajoz was founded. In the 11th and 12th centuries it was the residence of the rulers of the Taifa of Badajoz.

It was built to control the passage from Portugal to central Iberia. Expansion and restoration works were carried out between 913 and 1030, and in 1169 it was rebuilt. The final restoration work was carried out in the 13th century.

During the Peninsular War, the British made 3 attempts to breach Badajoz Fortress to capture it from the French.

The third attempt, known as the Battle of Badajoz, took place between 16 March and 6 April 1812 and saw an Anglo-Portguese force, led by Arthur Wellesley, the (future) Duke of Wellington, besiege and then eventually breach the thick curtain walls of Badajoz Fortress. The allied forces then stormed Badajoz, causing large-scale destruction.

It was a costly victory for the British, with some 4,800 Allied soldiers being killed or wounded in a few short hours of fighting. This triggered a three-day rampage amongst the surviving troops, who broke into houses to steal alcohol, and even killed some of their officers.

The overall result was that the Napoleonic hold of Western Spain was significantly weakened, and Wellington’s reputation for success in battle was strengthened.

The fortress was declared a Historic Artistic Monument in 1931. The breaches in the Badajoz Fortress walls can still be seen today.

Badajoz Fortress Today

Today, visitors can admire the fortress and enjoy the Provincial Archaeology Museum of Badajoz which is housed inside. External building features include an impressive wall with a watchtower known as the Espantaperros Tower, which was built in 1169 to an octagonal plan, and is surmounted by a small temple in the Mudéjar style which was added in the 16th century.

The museum hosts an extensive collection of warrior steles from the Final Bronze Age, which makes up around a quarter of all found in the Iberian Peninsula. Other exhibitions include Physical Environment, Prehistory, Protohistory, Roma, Late Roman, Visigothic, Islam, and Christian Middle Ages.

Getting to Badajoz Fortress

The closest major city is Seville. It takes around 2 and a half hours to reach the fortress and museum via the A-66 and N-432 roads. There are also a number of connecting coaches which take around three hours in total and depart from Sevilla Coach Station.

From the centre of Badajoz, the fortress is a 10 minute walk via Calle San Pedro de Alcantara, or a 5 minute drive via Av. Joaquín Costa and Ronda de Circunvalación Reina Sofía.

 

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