Borderland in Extremadura is hundreds of kilometres long. The country border goes from Valverde del Fresno in the north until Valencia de Mombuey in the south. The Extremeños call this frontier area “La Raya”, which means the line. The denomination of places in the region reflects the situation at the frontier. On Extremadura’s side you find villages with names such as “Oliva de la Frontera”, “Malpica de España” and even a small place called “La Portuguesa”. But the frontier vicinity can particularly be noticed by the town constructions and fortresses. There is nowhere in Europe with is so many well-preserved town fortifications and castle buildings as there are in Guadiana, the southern region along the frontier. The places on both sides of the frontier have been the primary scenes of struggles for the territory throughout the centuries. That is why ramparts, walls and towers have been erected there since the 17th century. In the same century the front line went through these places when the Portuguese Crown parted with Spain. The dynasty of the House of Aviz ended in 1580 and Portugal was reduced to a simple province by Spain, until the Duke of Braganza drove the Spanish off the country and crowned himself as King João IV of Portugal. In 1761 France and Spain attacked the small Kingdom. Portugal fought back successfully, with Wilhelm Graf zu Schaumburg-Lippe as the officer in command. At the beginning of the 19th century the fierce struggle of the Napoleonic troops for supremacy in Portugal took place there.
Due to the lengthy and bloody battle, these small towns were turned into defence complexes. Although the fortress of Olivenza had already been built in the late middle ages, its current appearance dated from the early modern times. Olivenza was connected to Portugal for longer than to Spain. That is why King Manuel the Fortunate of Portugal is emblazoned on the superb Palacio de los Duques de Cadaval. The conflicts at the frontier can also be traced back in Badajoz, for the town used to play an important role during the Napoleonic wars.
Looking down from the proud Alcazaba over the region, you will understand why Badojoz was such an important military point. In fact, the country to which the small town was connected automatically owned “La Raya”. Moreover, the massive town gates like the Puerta de Palmas are evidence of the defence function of the city. You can find detailed information about the large number of armed conflicts in the city museum “Luis de Morales”, where several rooms are dedicated to the boundary disputes of recent centuries. In the museum you also get to know how the changing affiliations of the city throughout the centuries have enriched the culture of this small border town.