About Fortaleza do Monte
Fortaleza do Monte or ‘Mount Fortress’ is a seventeenth century fortification in Macau. Built from 1616 to 1626, Fortaleza do Monte was a Jesuit defensive system.
The cannons of Fortaleza do Monte, which can still be seen there today, were used on only one occasion in 1622, in which they defeated the Dutch. Fortaleza do Monte later became the home of the first Portuguese community in Macau.
History of Fortaleza do Monte
Fortaleza do Monte forms an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ‘Historic Centre of Macau.’
Built between 1617 and 1626 in the military centre of Macau, the Fortress is located on the 52m tall Mount Hill, which is directly east of the Ruins of St. Paul’s.
It was constructed to protect the properties of the (primarily Portuguese) Jesuits in Macau, especially from pirates.
Later, it was taken over by the Portuguese colonial governor and other relevant authorities as part of Macau’s defence. Indeed, the fort proved crucial in successfully holding off the attempted Dutch invasion of Macau in 1622.
The fort is around 8,000 square metres in size, and has 32 muzzle-loading cannons placed around its walls, with two corners of the south-eastern fort wall built up with two small watchtowers.
It has served as the first residence of the Governors of Macau (in 1623 and in 1740), as the base for two companies of the Portuguese Prince Regent Battalion to act as police force (1810 to 1841), as a weather observatory for the Meteorological Department of Portuguese Macau (1966 to 1996), and now as the Museum of Macau (1998 to present day.)
The fort remained a restricted military site until 1965 when the barracks in the fort were converted into a weather observatory which was then opened to the public.
Fortaleza do Monte Today
Today, visitors can climb Mount Hill and enjoy the views of the city of Macau from its balustrades. There are also a number of old cannons for those who wish to engage with the history of the site.
For more in-depth information about Macau as a Portuguese colony territory, the Macau Museum is housed within the same building.
Getting to Fortaleza do Monte
Walking from Senado is recommended so you can enjoy the ruins of Senazo Plaza, the ruins of St. Paul, and a number of restaurants and tourist shops. From the Plaza itself, Fortaleza do Monte is a 400m walk.
There are public and private shuttle buses available to Senado. From the Macau Ferry Terminal, they suggest you can simply catch a free Grand Lisboa shuttle that will take you to the centre of Senado.
There is also a number of public buses – 3, 3A, 10, and 10A – from the Macau Ferry Terminal which go to Senado.