Completed in 1629 on the site of an older cannon battery, the Barra fort successfully protected the bar at the entrance of the Inner Harbor against the dutch in 1622. The fort was given such strong credit for the victory that between the 17th and 18th centuries, the commander of this fort was chosen directly by the king of Portugal and was not under the order of the Macau governor or captain general. The fort was described as a small town, built into the hills on the tip of the peninsula. The 30 foot tall chunambo walls, rising from stone foundations were 19 feet thick at the base and 11 feet thick at the top. The main platform was 375 feet by 1.38 feet and supported 12 cannons of 24 pound caliber and four 50 pound cannons, a water cistern with 3000 ton capacity and quarters for the commander and 60 soldiers. Higher up the hill was a guardhouse and six 24-pound cannons, while at ground level there were stores for ammunition and supplies as well as a large house.
In 1740 a chapel was built within the fortress, dedicated to St. James, patron saint of the military. Legend has it that the saint’s statue would patrol the fort at night and have mud on his boots in the morning, so a soldier was detailed to clean them. On one occassion it is said that the soldier failed to do so and was hit on the head by St. James sword.
After 1622 the fort’s cannons were never in use, until World War II when they were sold for rice to feed refugees from Hong Kong and Mainlaind China. Over the years the fort was gradually demolished to make room for roads and by 1976 it was abandoned by the Marine Police. The Macao Government Tourism Office decided to convert the ruins into a Portuguese Inn, which today is one of the city’s greatest attractions. To discover how the architect used the original walls, transformed the cistern into a fountain and incorporated century old trees into the design and restored the chapel, visitors are always welcome at the Pousada de Sao Tiago.
Address: Avenida da República, Macau
Bus routes nearby: 6B, 9, 28B, MT4
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