Juromenha sits at a strategic point on the Guadiana River crossing just two steps from Spain and neighbouring Olivença. It has always been of interest to the various peoples that have inhabited the Iberian Peninsula. According to an ancient tradition the first walls were built by the Romans. By the time of the Moors, Juromenha, then known as Chelmena, had become an important strategic position for defending Badajoz.
In 1167, Juromenha was conquered by Gerald the Fearless and fell into Portuguese hands for the first time. It was taken again by the Almohads (Moors) in 1191, and became Portuguese permanently in 1242 when it was reconquered by Dom Paio Peres Correia, Master of the Order of Santiago. Since then Juromenha Castle has played an important part in the defence of the Portuguese border. It was rebuilt by Don Dinis, the king who gave the town its charter in 1312.
During the Restoration period (17th century), the old Juromenha Castle was replaced by a new fortress designed according to Vauban system. Works were still underway when there was a powerful explosion in the powder magazine caused by a fire getting too close to a barrel of gunpowder, just after the Elvas Line battle (1659). But Juromenha’s misfortunes during the Restoration War did not end there.
In 1662, the Frenchman Nicolau de Langres, who had designed the fort, came to Portugal as part of the Spanish army. This military engineer took part in the taking of Juromenha by troops led by Don John of Austria, and thus made history as the curious case of someone who contributed to the fall of fortifications that he had devised.