Almeida (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐɫˈmɐjðɐ]) is a fortified village and a municipality in the sub-region of Beira Interior Norte and the District of Guarda, Portugal. The town proper has a population of 1,300 people (2011). The municipality population in 2011 was 7,242, in an area of 517.98 square kilometres (199.99 square miles). It is located in Riba-Côa river valley. The municipal holiday is July 2.
In and around the environment of Almeida, evidence of Human occupation can be found back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Evidence has also been found of Roman occupation followed by the Suevi and the Visigoths. The first fortification constructed in the settlement were constructed by the Muslims who occupied the village until Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. It was during this time that the current name was first used, in the form of the Arabic al-Ma'ida ('the plateau').
Sancho I, The Populator
The village of Almeida was captured from the Moors by the second king of Portugal, Sancho I in the 12th century because of its strategic position in the new country of Portugal's border with Spain. So important to the security of the country, Sancho had the village heavily fortified. The castle was refortified on three further occasions by King Dinis, King Manuel I and by King João VI. The present 12 pointed star fortification was constructed in 1641 to a Vaubanesque plan to which the French military engineer is believed to have personally worked[ on, during the castle's final stages of completion.
During the Seven Years' War (1754 to 1763) which involved most of the great powers of Europe, Spain with the help of France launched an attack on Portugal due to its alliance with Great Britain. As a result of the invasion, Almeida was captured by Spain in 1762.
Main article: Castle Fortress of Almeida
The fortress around the town guards an important cross-border road from Spain and underwent several sieges. The siege of 1810, during the Peninsular War, ended spectacularly when a chance shell ignited the main gunpowder magazine, which exploded, killing 500 defenders and destroying most of the town.