BRAZIL  |  Salvador, Brazil Travel Guide
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Forts of Salvador

Forts of Salvador

Salvador’s historical bodyguard has been its forts; they have preserved and sustained the city. In 1549, Salvador’s birth year, the governor general was ordered to fortify the city. He had built a strong, yet futile, wooden fence whose circumference formed the first outline of the city. Its presence provided no security so Manoel Teles Barreto, captain and governor, built Santo Antônio da Barra and Monte Serrat, two large, sturdy structures. For two centuries these strategic forts were enlarged and they became the initial buttress of the city. In time, more forts were built. They became obsolete in the 19th century and many now serve as museums.

Forte de São Marcelo

Forte de São Marcelo, or N.S. Populo fort, is the best-known and most-visited. Its thick stone walls perch on a sandbank 300 meters/ 1,000 feet from the dock, facing Mercado Modelo. Construction on the solid circular structure began in 1650 and was completed in 1725. Until the middle of the 18th century, the fort had 18 cannons that were fired to warn residents and also to celebrate holidays. The chapel was used as a prison for political prisoners. Boats ferry visitors to the fort. They leave from in front of Mercado Modelo.

Fort Santo Antônio da Barra

Fort Santo Antônio da Barra doubles today as a nautical museum and lighthouse. Built between 1591 and 1602 of rock and limestone, it has six outstanding angles and four entryways. The fort was taken by the Dutch in 1624 and retaken the following year. It offers beautiful views of All Saints Bay. The museum inside the lighthouse has a collection of maps and charts, navigational instruments and archeological finds from wrecks in nearby waters. The signs here are in Portuguese and English. Fort Santo Antônio da Barra is located near the entrance to Barra. The farol (lighthouse) is one of the best viewing sites in the city, especially at sunset.

Monte Serrat

Monte Serrat, one of the two original forts, also offers beautiful views of the city. It was occupied by the Dutch twice. Shaped like an irregular hexagon, the fort is at Boa Viagem, on a hill on the west side of Itapagipe Peninsula. During the Dutch invasions, it provided cross fire with Santo Antônio. It has changed names several times and is sometimes referred to as Forte São Felipe. From this fort you can look across the bay and see Lower Town, the cliffs of Upper Town with its church spires and, beyond the historic town, the modern high-rise buildings of the city.

There are several other forts interspersed around the city and its environs as well.

Last updated December 16, 2010
Posted in   Brazil  |  Salvador
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