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Fortaleza de Santa Cruz

Fort Santa Cruz
Fortaleza de Santa Cruz (Fort Santa Cruz) was one of three forts that guarded the entrance to Guanabara Bay in the mid-eighteenth century. It is located a narrow headland on the eastern side of the entrance to the bay.

Originally built on the site of earlier French fortifications in 1567, the fort was progressively strengthened before being completely remodelled in the mid-1760s under the direction of Jacques Funk (c.1715-1788), a Swedish born military engineer recruited into the service of the Portuguese crown.

The new fort was designed so that its guns fire through an arc of nearly 180 degrees across the approaches to the Bay, and one of nearly 270 degrees within the Bay. The side of the fort facing the land was protected by a sea moat cut across the headland.

In the mid-1770s fear of Spanish attacks led to additional fortifications being constructed on the hillside behind the Fort. It also led to experiments to determine whether the Bay could be protected by stretching a heavy iron chain just below the surface of the water between ships securely anchored off Fortaleza de Santa Cruz and Fort Laje, built on an island off the western entrance to the Bay. The thinking was that as enemy warships collided with the chain they would become easy targets for the gunners of both forts.

Fort Santa Cruz is now a protected architectural heritage site.

The fort appears on several charts of Guanabara Bay sketched by Cook and members of the Endeavour expedition. A pencil and wash sketch of the Fort as seen from within Guanabara Bay by Sydney Parkinson is now in the British Library. See A. David, pp. 16-19, 36.


Prepared by: Turnbull, P.
Created: 28 October 2001
Modified: 10 December 2003

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000106

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