Destination Napoleon, Itinéraire
Européen du Conseil de l'Europe

Historical Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras (RHLT)

Change your destination, where we changed Napoleon’s destiny!

The Historical Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras (RHLT) is a cultural and tourism product, located about 30 km north from Lisbon. It invites the visitor to a unique heritage in the history of Europe. The project unites six municipalities - that is Arruda dos Vinhos, Loures, Mafra, Sobral de Monte Agraço, Vila Franca de Xira and Torres Vedras.

History of the Lines of Torres Vedras and the 6 cities and Napoleon

The Peninsular War occur between 1807 and 1814 in the Iberian Peninsula and was part of a more comprehensive conflict that affected all of Europe - the Napoleonic Wars.

The French invasions were one of the greatest military offensives ever carried out on Portuguese territory, which left deep marks in places and people of that time, but the Anglo-Portuguese resistance was decisive to mark the beginning of the withdrawal of the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon dominated almost all of Europe. Invincible on land decreed, in 1806, the "Continental Blockade" demanding the closure of the European ports to the British ships seeking economically stifling the adversary.

In this scenario of hostility, two great powers - France and England - were disputing the hegemony of Europe and Portugal faced a dilemma: obeying Napoleon, antagonizing his old English ally, or remaining true to the alliance, declaring war on France. His position of neutrality did not please Napoleon who issued a new order to close the Portuguese ports and send French troops to occupy the country.

In November 1807 General Jean-Andoche Junot reached Lisbon only to see the Portuguese royal family and court flee down the Tagus River to withdrawn to Brazil. In August 1808, the Anglo-Portuguese army defeated the French troops in the battles of Vimeiro and Roliça.

In 1809, General Soult led the second invasion in an offensive in the north of the country that culminated in the tragedy of the collapse of the Ponte das Barcas (pontoon bridge) in Oporto (March). Pressed by the Anglo-Portuguese army, the French retired to Spain.

In July 1810, Marshal André Massena renewed the offensive to Portugal, in charge of the third invasion. After suffering a defeat at the battle of Buçaco (September), he reorganized his troops and continued the march towards Lisbon. Arthur Wellesley (future Duke of Wellington) was one step ahead of the invader and retreated to the capital's defenses - The Lines of Torres Vedras.

The Lines of Torres Vedras were a defensive military system built north of Lisbon between 1809 and 1810. In the deepest secrecy the future Duke of Wellington, outlined his defensive strategy, which consisted on creating hilltop fortifications, controlling the access routes to the Kingdom's capital, reinforcing the natural obstacles of the terrain. This system, consisted of three defensive lines, stretched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Tagus River, for more than 85 km.

When completed it had 152 military works, armed with 600 pieces of artillery and defended by 140,000 men, becoming the most effective defense system and also the cheapest in military history.

In front of Lines of Torres Vedras, in October 1810, the battles of Sobral (12), Dois Portos (13) and Seramena (14) took place. These decisive confrontations, between the French troops and the Anglo-Portuguese army, were also the shortest and least bloody since Napoleonic army invaded Portugal.

After them, Napoleon's troops lost their attacking impetus, recognizing the impenetrability of the Lines of Torres Vedras, while waiting for resupplies and reinforcements that did not appear, due to the action of the Portuguese "guerrilla".

On November 15, 1810, Marshal Massena ordered the withdrawal of French troops, beginning the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, which would culminate on 18 June 1815 in the Battle of Waterloo.

The Musts along the Historical Route

The Historical Route of the Lines of Torres Vedras (RHLT) is a cultural and tourism product, located about 30 km north from Lisbon invites the visitor to a unique heritage in the history of Europe.

It was distinguished internationally with the prize Europa Nostra, Europe Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Prize (2014) and nationally by Turismo de Portugal (2012), as the best Requalification Public Project.

The RHLT has six thematic available routes (Torres Vedras – Along the First Line; Wellington; From the Palace to the Atlantic; The junction of the Lines; The Great passes; The defense of the Tagus), distributed by a territory that extends between the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean. The routes comprise several Fortes built between 1809 and 1810 to defend Lisbon from the Napoleonic occupation, supported by a network of interpretation centers that contextualize the visitors, under different approaches and a range of offers that make the experience unforgettable.

In this territory, it is possible to find tourism of sensations and emotions. From adventure sports, hiking, golf, cycling, jeep tours, horse riding and surfing to the experiences through senses such as gastronomy and wine tourism and the well-deserved repose in places full of charm.

Visiting it will be an enriching challenge.

For further information www.rhlt.pt and/or www.cilt.pt/en

Link to the promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phSszVI5PI8&t=

What more in the area?

  • Cities of Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra, Óbidos e Alcobaça
  • Beaches of Ericeira
  • World Surfing Reserve (Mafra) and Santa Cruz (Torres Vedras)
  • National Palace of Mafra