Museu militar de Elvas: a história da ‘sentinela’ do Reino de Portugal

Elvas foi o primeiro espaço fronteiriço a ser “fortificado de modo permanente” durante e depois da Guerra da Restauração em 1640, sendo então designada capital militar do Alentejo e a mais importante praça-forte que assegurava a Independência de Portugal, em virtude de estar a menos de 10 km da fronteira luso-espanhola. 

Esta vila alentejana, citando J.H.Saraiva, é um dos  lugares “mais ensanguentados e mais martirizados” do território português. Afinal, a 14 de Janeiro de 1659, foi aqui que ocorreu a Batalha das Linhas de Elvas.

O Museu Militar de Elvas tem inúmeros pontos e elementos  expositivos de interesse, tais como, o Centro de Interpretação do Património de Elvas, a História do Serviço de Saúde do Exército, o salão de Hipomóveis e Arreios Militares e inúmeras viaturas bélicas que fizeram parte da história-militar de Portugal do séc. XX. Tem como missão a “a promoção, a valorização, o enriquecimento e a exposição do património histórico-militar à sua guarda”. Trata-se do maior museu em área de implantação de Portugal. Ao todo são 150.000m2 e uma área coberta de 14.000m2. Atualmente a área deste espaço museológico ultrapassa os 3.500m2. 

O Quartel do Casarão faz parte de antigas dependências construídas no séc. XVIII, depois da campanha de 1762-63 pelo engenheiro militar Valleré, autor da traça do Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça. Trata-se de um conjunto de antigas Casernas do Quartel da Cavalaria, hoje ocupadas por circuito expositivo sobre as comunicações do Exército Português. Cada uma ostenta um nome de um combate onde a arma de cavalaria se notabilizou, designadamente nos sertões de África nos finais do séc.XIX, mantendo ainda hoje a sua traça original.

O Salão Hipomóvel está localizado numa sala do inicio do séc XIX, quando uma parte do espaço era ocupado quartel de cavalaria, houve a necessidade de construir cavalariças para alojar 500 cavalos e milhares de soldados, estas desenvolviam se ao longo de toda a atual parada Mouzinho de Albuquerque, num comprimento total de 120 metros. Chegados a meados do séc XX, com a sucessiva substituição da força motora dos equinos pelos automóveis, e com a necessidade de proporcionar condições mais dignas aos militares que aqui prestavam serviço, foi desanexada parte da cavalariça para adaptação a refeitório de praças.

As salas de dedicadas ao armamento rebocado por animais (Hipomóveis), na sua quase totalidade artilharia, podemos encontrar exposto os seguintes objectos bélicos: tiro de Artilharia composto por 3 parelhas, armão de transporte de munições e peça”Schneider Canet” de 7,5 mm Modelo 1904; Canhão revolve “Hotchkiss”de 40mm Modelo 1904. Carro de Ferramenta de Esquadrão Modelo 1907. Peça de Artilharia 11,4 cm tiro rápido Modelo 1917; Ambulância de Campanha Modelo Francês do ano 1890; Peça “AB Bofors” calibre 75mm. Modelo 1934; Caixa de Cirurgia de Campanha com instrumentos e material sanitário.

No espaço exterior do Museu Militar, o visitante pode contemplar a área envolvente das fortificações e muralhas abaluartadas da cidade de Elvas. É o caso do Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça, uma das mais belas fortificações do nosso país e, quiçá, do mundo. A Coleção de Viaturas Militares do Museu Militar de Elvas contém inúmeras viaturas histórico-militares que fizeram parte da História Militar de Portugal.  Na imagem, temos o “burro do mato” Mercedes Benz UNIMOG 411, de fabrico alemão,  foram intensamente usados desde 1957 até aos anos 80. Também esta é uma das viaturas emblemáticas das campanhas de África, podia transportar 10 militares, sem qualquer proteção, mas dispostos (costas com costas) de modo a poderem saltar rapidamente da viatura e reagir a emboscadas.  

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