OLIVENZA Ajuda Bridge


Ayuda (or Ajuda) Bridge, ordered to be built by D. Manuel at the beginning of the 16th century to facilitate the connection and assistance to Olivenza, lies in ruins today. According to the King's squire, Duarte de Armas, when he passed through in 1509 work had already begun on the pillars. The floods of the Guadiana and the wars of civilization have taken their toll on it over the years.

Its last destruction occurred in 1709, during the War of Succession to the Spanish throne. The Marqués de Bay, general of the Spanish troops, ordered its central arches to be destroyed in order to cut off the aid to Olivenza. However, it also suffered similar damage in the 17th century, during the War of Restoration, when Portugal separated from the Spanish crown in the time of Philip IV. After the second of the three major sieges that Olivenza underwent, the central part was destroyed, and the Spanish troops left behind some satirical verses alluding to the fact. These baroque verses were later answered by the Portuguese with an equally mocking poem about the enemy.


With a total length of 380 meters, it had the widest central arch of its time. It had voussoired granite arches. Its cutwaters and pillars were also built in this material. Near its centre, there are still remains of a tower that defended its passage.

It was destroyed for the last time in the war of succession to the throne of Spain, in 1709, when the Marqués de Bay, chief of the armies, destroyed the central arches to isolate Olivenza. One can still imagine its excellent construction, with granite keystones in the arches, and the remains of its tower.

After several attempts at reconstruction throughout its history, it was partially restored in 2003, but its central arches have yet to be restored.

About two hundred meters downstream a new bridge has been constructed to restore the connection between the towns of Elvas and Olivenza that the old bridge once provided.