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Eurostars Fuerte de la Concepción
Avda. de Portugal S/N Salamanca - Aldea del Obispo 37488 Spain
Eurostars Fuerte de la Concepción
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History

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The first fort
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The history of the Real Fuerte de la Concepción is 350 years old and is closely linked with the historical hostilities between Spain and Portugal which, thankfully, are now in the distant past.

In 1641 the Portuguese proclaimed their independence from Spanish reign, with the Duke of Braganza becoming the new king under the name Juan IV of Portugal. Felipe IV, King of Spain, at war with France, did not find soldiers or the time to fight the Portuguese, but when peace was signed with France, he quickly attempted to recover the throne of Portugal. For this he commissioned the command of his army to the Duke of Osuna, who ordered, among other fortifications, the construction of a fort on the Spanish bank of the river Turones to serve as a cantonment for the Spanish armies which Portugal had to recover.

The works began on 8 December 1663, the festival of the Immaculate Conception, which is why the fort took this name. Just 40 days later, the first phase of the job was completed and the fort housed a garrison of 1500 infantry and 200 cavalry.

Osuna's troops were defeated by the Portuguese in the Battle of Castelo Rodrigo. The King of Spain took control from Osuna and ordered the demolition of the first Fort Concepción under a year after the start of the building. It was not a total demolition, as it was still sporadically used as base for the troops.



The Fort of Felipe V
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In subsequent decades, Portugal fortified strongholds in Olivenza, Elvas, Valença do Minho and Almeida, which prompted José Patiño, minister of Philip V, to build a line of fortifications on the Spanish side of the border to counteract those which erected Portugal had erected.

In 1735, the military engineer Pedro Moreau took on the construction of a new fort of the Concepción in the place Osuna had built 70 years previously. Author Manuel de Lara Churriguera collaborated with him on the large royal shield above the complex's main door. The fort was completed in 1758. But at that time, it seemed that Fort Concepción had never even heard a shot fired. It was a silent witness to silence.



The Fort in the War of Independence
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However, in the War of Independence, the fort was to play a prominent role. Napoleon's decision to take control of Portugal and put his brother José on the Spanish throne would transform the fort into a major stage.

The British landed in Portugal. At its command was Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The enormous territory surrounding Fort Concepción was to become a battlefield throughout the Spanish War of Independence.

In the summer of 1810, the French besieged Ciudad Rodrigo and the brigadier Herrasti surrendered the square to the French Marshall Rey. On 21 July 1810, the British blew up Fort Concepción during their withdrawal. The four revellines which protected its walls were destroyed, as were two of its strongholds. A large part of its walls crumbled. The small fort of San José and the circular barracks of Caballerizas were also blown up by British gunners. The ravages of gunpowder can still be observed 200 years later.



The Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
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Nevertheless, in March 1811, Napoleon's soldiers left Portugal again, defeated by the Anglo-Portuguese armies. The turning point of the war took place a few weeks later on 3 and 4 May 1811 when Napoleon's troops were defeated at the battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, just 10 km from Fort Concepción. The French abandoned Almeida and Fort Concepción. In January 1812, the Duke of Wellington entered Ciudad Rodrigo triumphantly.



From fort to hotel
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After the war, the fort fell by the wayside. With its walls half in ruins, locals used the building as a quarry until the middle of the 20th century: many residents of the area went there to find stones to build their houses. The naves of the fort were also used by nearby shepherds and cattle farmers to house cattle and also for growing mushrooms.

The fort's gates were left wide open for many years, so it held great appeal for groups of children from Aldea del Obispo and was a secret romantic refuge for young (and not so young) couples under the starry night sky in the Salamanca pastures.

In 2006, the current owners bought the ruins of Fort Concepción. They immediately began to began to rehabilitate the site, enhance its value and transform it into a hotel. This great transformation came to fruition in 2012 when the Real Fuerte de la Concepción reopened, this time as a luxury hotel: the only military Vaubam-style fortress in Europe to be renovated into a luxury hotel. And once and for all, it welcomes everyone – whether Spanish, Portuguese, French or English – with open arms to enjoy an environment of total peace.



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