Small Fort of Our Lady of Monserrate

Small Fort of Our Lady of Monserrate

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Military Architecture

This is the only surviving fortification from the defences built at the time of Dom Francisco de Sousa (1591-1602), all of which can be attributed to his engineer Baccio de Filicaia, a native of Tuscany. The fortification, which dates from a transitional period of Italian military architecture, fortunately retains its original appearance. It was built at the same time as the second version of the Fort of Saint Antony of Barra, which then had a similar floor plan, the towers of Saint Albert, which had square bases (no longer in existence), and the tower of Saint James in Água de Meninos, which has a round base and was converted into a stronghold in the 18th century. All these defences are depicted in an original drawing in 17th-century maps made by Albernaz. Because the Small Fort of Our Lady of Mon- serrate is from a transitional period of architecture, it features turrets flanking the curtain walls rather than bastions. Two of the turrets were demolished to make way for more artillery firing positions in the embankment, as can seen in the records made by Caldas in the 18th century. However, the fort must have been rebuilt during the restorations ordered by the administration of Góis Calmon in 1927 and is one of the few Brazilian fortifications to retain its original appearance from the late 16th century.

Mário Mendonça de Oliveira