Historical Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras

The historical and touristic route invites to discover a unique heritage in the history of Europe, through six distinct trails, which are distributed in a territory between the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Association for the Historical and Tourist Development of the Lines of Torres Vedras (RHLT) is an association formed to involve all in the heritage of the Lines of Torres Vedras.

Its activities aim to familiarise the visitor with this historical heritage, to encourage respect for the conservation and protection of sites which are part of our cultural inheritance and to teach citizenship and social integration.



The largest and most effective defensive system in Europe

The Lines of Torres Vedras was a military defensive system, constructed to the north of Lisbon between 1809 and 1810.

Under a cloak of secrecy, the future Duke of Wellington developed a defence strategy based on the fortification of key points on the hilltops so as to be able to observe the access routes to the capital of Portugal and reinforce the natural obstacles of the local terrain.

This system comprised three lines of defence, extending over 85 km from the Atlantic to the river Tagus.

When finished, there were 152 military constructions, armed with 600 artillery pieces and defended by 140,000 men, making it the most efficient – as well as the cheapest – defensive system in military history.

In front of these lines, in October 1810, were the battles at Sobral (nº 12), Dois Portos (nº 13) and Seramena (nº 14). These decisive engagements, between French troops and the Anglo-Portuguese army, were also the shortest and least bloody since the Napoleonic Army had invaded Portugal.

After these, Napoleon’s troops lost their fighting spirit, understanding that the Lines of Torres Vedras were impregnable. They expected supplies and reinforcements but these never arrived because of Portuguese guerrilla activity.

On the 15th November 1810, Marshal Massena ordered the withdrawal of his French troops. This led to Napoleon Bonaparte’s eventual defeat on 18th June 1815 at Waterloo.

Napoleon spent the last six years of his life imprisoned on the island of St Helena and Europe opened a new chapter in its history.