Written by Marco Ramerini. English text revision by Dietrich Köster.
Fernando de Noronha was discovered by the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci in 1503. In 1504 the Crown granted the archipelago as a “capitania hereditária” to a Portuguese lord, Fernão de Noronha, from whom it takes its name.
The archipelago was occupied by two other European nations (Dutch and French) during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Only from 1737 onwards, after the expulsion of the French, which had taken possession of the island in 1736, Fernando de Noronha was definitively occupied by Portugal.
Portugal decided to fortify the island conveniently. For this purpose, ten forts were built in all strategic points, where a possibility of disembarkation existed: Nine on the main island and one on the Ilha de São José, situated in front of the Saint Anthony harbour. All the forts were connected by a network of stone roads. The defence system was planned by the Portuguese military engineer Diogo da Sylveira Vellozo.
FORTS ON THE MAR DE DENTRO:
FORTALEZA NOSSA SENHORA DOS REMÉDIOS, VILA DOS REMÉDIOS
It is the biggest fort of the whole defensive system, built by the Portuguese in the 18th century. It is situated on a hill between the Saint Anthony Harbour and the Praia do Cachorro. This fort is the best conserved of the whole island. Click here for the page dedicated to this fort.
FORTE DE SÃO JOSÉ DO MORRO, ILHA DE SÃO JOSÉ
This fort was built between 1758-1761. It is the only fort, which was built on a secondary island (Ilha de São José). It has still imposing ruins and from the Ponta de Santo Antônio the gate of the fort is clearly visible and on the seaside several cannons are still to be seen.
FORTE DE SANTO ANTÔNIO, PONTA DE SANTO ANTÔNIO.
This fort was built in 1737. The construction is an irregular four-sided polygon. According to the original plan it should have 10 cannons, of which several are still on the ground of the fort.
FORTE DE SANT’ANA, VILA DOS REMÉDIOS, CACHORRO
Built in the middle of the 18th century, the fort had six cannons and was later transformed into a Navy Quarter (quartel). This fort is situated over the old harbour in the village of Vila dos Remédios.
FORTE DE NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO, PONTA DO MEIO
This fort was built in 1737. At the end of the 19th century a hospital was built over the fort ruins. The ruins of the fort/hospital are still visible in the vegetation.
FORTE DE SANTA CRUZ DO PICO, PRAIA DA CONCEIÇÃO
This fort was built in the 18th century. This was a small redoubt located near the Italcable house in the middle of the Praia da Conceição.
FORTE DE SÃO PEDRO DO BOLDRÓ, PRAIA DO BOLDRÓ
This fort was built in the XVIIIth century. It is located on the hill, which separates Praia do Boldró from the Praia do Americano. The ruins are still clearly visible. This is the preferred place for the observation of the sunset in Fernando de Noronha. According to the map the fort had a rectangular shape, but the actual ruins seem to be more circular on the seaside.
FORTE DE SÃO BATISTA DOS DOIS IRMÃOS, BAIA DOS PORCOS-PRAIA DO SANCHO
This fort was built in the XVIIIth century. This redoubt had six cannons.
FORTS ON THE MAR DE FORA:
FORTE DE SÃO JOAQUIM DO SUESTE, PONTA DAS CARACAS
This fort was built in 1739. It is a square-shaped fort with six cannons. A few are still there.
FORTE DO BOM JESUS DO LEÃO, PRAIA DO LEÃO
This fort was built in 1778. It had 11 cannons.