Fortaleza do Monte
|Fortaleza do Monte|
|Literal meaning||Big Fortress|
|Portuguese||Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora do Monte de São Paulo|
Fortaleza do Monte (Portuguese for Mount Fortress, also Monte Forte; officially Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora do Monte de São Paulo, in English: Fortress of Our Lady of the Mount of St. Paul; Chinese: 大炮台; Cantonese Yale: daaih paau yìh) is a fort in Santo António in Macau SAR, China. It is the historical military centre of Macau. The Fortaleza forms part of the "Historic Centre of Macau" and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The fort was built between 1617 and 1626 on the 52 metres tall Mount Hill, located directly east of the Ruins of St. Paul's. It was constructed to protect the properties of the Jesuits (mainly Portuguese Jesuits) in Macau, especially from pirates. Later, the Fortaleza was taken over by the Portuguese colonial governor and the relevant authorities for the defence of Macau.
The Fortaleza occupies an area of roughly 8,000 square metres. 32 muzzle-loading cannons were placed around the fort's walls and the two corners of the southeastern fort wall have small watchtowers. The fort proved crucial in successfully holding off the attempted Dutch invasion of Macau in 1622.
The fort remained a restricted military area until 1965 when the barracks in the fort were converted into a weather observatory and was opened to the public. The observatory ceased its function and was relocated to Taipa in 1996 before it was demolished to make way for the Museum of Macau, which was officially opened on 19th April 1998. The tree-covered park at the top of the fort has a panoramic view of the mainland area of Macau.
Apart from being a fortress, it has served various functions:
- The first residence of the Governors of Macau (in 1623 and in 1740).
- The base for two companies of the Portuguese Prince Regent Battalion to act as a police force from 1810 to 1841.
- A weather observatory of the Meteorological Department of Portuguese Macau (from 1966 to 1996).
- The Museum of Macau (1998 to present-day).
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