La Lippe: 18th-century Star Fort of Portugal

There are a lot of star forts in the world and La Lippe, or officially Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort in Portugal, is one of the most impressive ones among them. Located in Alcáçova, the fort is on top of a hill called Monte da Graça meaning the Hill of Grace. It consists of 150-meter-long star-shaped walls and separate bastions at corners. After its construction, the fort proved to be an effective deterrent against enemies. However, as years passed, its architectural merit began to come forward as well. Since 2012, the Portuguese star fort has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

La Lippe

Moreover, La Lippe serves as a border between Portugal and Spain. In fact, the reason why the fort is so close to the Spanish border is because of years of conflicts and wars. The conflicts between the two countries go back to the Iberian Union. The union made Portugal and other Iberian Peninsula nations come together under the Spanish crown. However, the union did not live for long. Portugal started an independence war against the Spanish in 1640 which lasted for 28 years.

La Lippe start fort

The name La Lippe goes back to the Marshal Lippe of Germany. During the Seven Years’ War, Germany and Portugal were allies. Therefore, the Portuguese king specifically requested the Marshal to draw plans for a defensive fort for them. Furthermore, while drawing the plans, Lippe took full inspiration from an older fort he built at his home. As time passed, people started to call the fort by its designer’s name.

La Lippe statue

Despite being an icon of the Portuguese military, La Lippe once became home to a story of valor by the French army in the early 19th century. As a part of the Napoleonic invasions, the French army entered Portugal but met with defeat. Although a treaty guaranteed the safe passage of the remainder of French soldiers to France, a Spanish general did not accept this. The general started to bomb the soldiers in the star fort but the soldiers held their own with their commanders. After successfully defending the fort, the French soldiers left the castle and made their way to their home.

La Lippe snake and lion

Today, La Lippe is one of the most stunning star forts in the world and a cultural and architectural icon of Portugal.

La Lippe entrance
star fort entrance
La Lippe from above
star fort close up
star fort walls
star fort walls and windows