Fort of Leça de Palmeira

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Fort of Leça da Palmeira (Forte de Leça da Palmeira)
Castle of Matosinhos, Fort of Our Lady of the Snows
Fortification (Forte)
Forte Leca Palmeira (Matosinhos).jpg
The tiered battlements of the Forte de Leça de Palmeira
Official name: Nossa Senhora das Neves da Barra de Leça
Named for: Leça da Palmeira
Country  Portugal
Region Norte
Subregion Greater Porto
District Porto
Municipality Matosinhos
Location Leça da Palmeira
 - elevation 20 m (66 ft)
 - coordinates 41°11′15.40″N 8°42′8.19″W / 41.1876111°N 8.7022750°W / 41.1876111; -8.7022750Coordinates: 41°11′15.40″N 8°42′8.19″W / 41.1876111°N 8.7022750°W / 41.1876111; -8.7022750
Length 41.54 m (136 ft), Southwest-Northeast
Width 50.89 m (167 ft), Northwest-Southeast
Landscaping Ilídio de Araújo
Style Baroque
Materials Granite, Masonry, Wood, Tile
Origin c. 1638
 - Initiated fl. 1638
 - Completion 1720
Owner Portuguese Republic
For public Public
Easiest access Avenida Dr. Antunes Guimarães, Rampa do Castelo, Rua de Santa Catarina
Management Instituto Gestão do Patrimonio Arquitectónico e Arqueológico
Operator Captaincy of the Port of Leixões; Ministério da Defesa Nacional/Marinha
Status Property of Public Interest
Listing Decree 44/075; DG281, 5 December 1961
Wikimedia Commons: Forte de Leça da Palmeira

The Fort of Leça da Palmeira (Portuguese: Forte de Leça da Palmeira), or alternately the Castle of Matosinhos (Portuguese: Castelo de Matosinhos) is a 17th-century fort located in civil parish of Leça da Palmeira, municipality of Matosinhos in the Greater Porto region of Portugal.


The manicured grounds of the fort, showing the battlements and barbicans

The fort was begun in 1638 in the area known as Santa Catarina by João Sá e Meneses, then Count of Penaguião, which they initially designated as the Forte de Nossa Senhora das Neves da Barra de Leça (Fort of Our Layd of the Snows of the Leça Sandbar).[1][2] The objective of this fortification was to reinforce the sandbar of the mouth of the Douro, in conjunction with the Fort of São Francisco Xavier do Queijo, and the Fort of São João da Foz.[2]

With the beginning of the Portuguese Restoration War in 1640, the conclusion of the project took on a greater importance.[2] But, by 1642, the fort was not yet completed, such that officials of the municipal council of Porto petitioned King John IV to force the quick conclusion of the public works.[1][2] The construction only continued in 1646, and two years later the first garrison of six soldiers was instituted by royal order.[2] But, the establishment of the garrison did not mean the construction was concluded. In 1655, a new petition was sent to the King, yet the construction would drag onto the next century.[1][2]

In 1701, the fort, still uncompleted, was home for a larger group of soldiers, artillery emplacements and four cannons. It was only in 1720 that the fort was finally completed.[2]

During the Liberal Wars, around 1832, the fort had suffered some damage, and reconstruction were completed in the warehouses, the drawbridge, internal staircase and the parapets.[1][2] A few years later, the fort lost its military function, with the removal of the garrison, and in 1844 the main square became the location of the customs house of Porto.[2]

In the 20th century, the fort was transferred to the Captaincy of the Port of Leixões, where they installed their services.[1]

In 1962, a landscaping project was completed by Ilídio de Araújo, who beautified the grounds and area around the fort.[1][2]


The fort is located along the urban shoreline of the civil parish of Leça da Palmeira, implanted in front of the Port of Leixões, and encircled by homes and residences.[1]

The fort is a typical design in the form of a star pattern, with four points, protected by angular curtain wall and barbicans.[1] The fort still has some cannons along its battlements.[1][2] Apart from a few dependencies associated with its service as fortification, the rest of the interior is occupied by constructions uncharacteristic of this service, constructed to service the Captaincy of the Porto Leixões, including arrials, communications antennas and service buildings.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sereno, Isabel; Leão, Miguel (1994), SIPA, ed., Forte de Leça da Palmeira/Castelo de Matosinhos (v.PT011308050004) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA –Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 13 April 2012 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Oliveira, Catarina (June 2008). "Forte de Leça da Palmeira, também conhecido por Castelo de Matosinhos" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: IGESPAR - Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico. Retrieved 13 April 2012.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  • MOP, ed. (1962), Relatório da Actividade do Ministério no Ano de 1961 (in Portuguese), 2, Lisbon, Portugal: Ministério das Obras Públicas 
  • MOP, ed. (1963), Relatório da Actividade do Ministério no Ano de 1962 (in Portuguese), 2, Lisbon, Portugal: Ministério das Obras Públicas 
  • Pacheco, Hélder (1976), O Grande Porto (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal 
  • Dionísio, Santana (1985), Guia de Portugal (in Portuguese), 4 (I ed.), Coimbra, Portugal 
  • Lopes, Flávio (1993), Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal