Fortified Tower of Our Lady of Victory
Hurmuz [Ormuz/Hormoz/Armûz], Persian Gulf | Red Sea, Iran
The first Portuguese building campaign took place between 24th October 1507 and January 1508, by decision of Afonso de Albuquerque. Following the military success, the tower in honour of Our Lady of Victory was the first structure built, though it did not reach its maximum height at this stage. The ground floor was used as a cistern from the start; the governor ordered the placement of eight tanks with capacity for eight barrels (the two rubble-filled tanks in the inner courtyard are certainly vestiges of this arrangement). The bottom of the tower joined a low advance work whose upper gun platform had a parapet marked by cannon embrasures. The structure as a whole evokes the Belém Tower in Lisbon (Portugal), as observed by Rafael Moreira (but it did not have a casemate, i.e. no cannon holes opened in the elevations, as the interior was divided into two floors). What seems clear is that this structure, adapted for artillery, only had functional logic before construction of the walls delimiting the fortress’s intramural space. In this early stage, documents mention the presence of two masonry masters, João da Flandres and Fernão Álvares, both bombardiers. They were just two among many others, as several were at work at any given time, entrusted with different sections to speed completion of the work. Some authors associate this stage’s work to the supervision of Tomás Fernandes, the military architect who designed the first network of fortifications in India and accompanied the eastward career of Afonso de Albuquerque; the governor praised him as a “wonderful man” more diligent than he himself was.
After the forced withdrawal of the Portuguese in 1508, the tower’s construction was interrupted at the first floor. Local authorities subsequently took over and increased its height; it was given two floors and an upper patio, as well as a wall which separated the fortification from the city. Other provisional defence measures were implemented at the same time.