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  • Forts of Rio de Janeiro

    Forts of Rio de Janeiro

    Today it is possible to visit several of the forts of Rio de Janeiro that were built to defend the entrance of the Guanabara Bay, constituted from the moment of its discovery, a strategic point for the defense of the territory, the colony and the maritime trade. Although the Portuguese were the first to reach the bay, it was the French who initiated the colonization of the territory and the first to build fortified enclaves that protected what they named as Antarctic France.


    Over the centuries, most of these fortifications have disappeared or been transformed, but several of the great forts of Rio de Janeiro that were erected years later by the Portuguese remain standing and fulfilling military functions. Possibly the most important defensive bastion, because it guarded the entrance to the bay, be that formed by the São João Fort, at the end of the Urca neighborhood, the Santa Cruz Fort, located just in front in the town of Niteroi, and the small Lage Fort raised on an island in the middle of these two forts. Between the three they formed a practically impassable barrier that closed the way to Guanabara Bay, to any vessel that was not welcome.

    Another strategic point for its location on top of a hill is the Leme or Duke of Caxias Fort, whose origins date back to 1776. The visit to this fortification is worth not only for the military building itself, but rather because It is located in the middle of a protected nature reserve, surrounded by impressive vegetation and with fantastic views.

    The most modern, was built in the early twentieth century, and best known for being on the small peninsula that divides the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, is the Copacabana Fort, currently this fort no longer fulfills any military function. On the other side of the bay, in Niteroi, in addition to the aforementioned, Santa Cruz Fort, is the largest continuous set of forts and fortresses in the entire country, among which is the São Luiz or do Pico Fort.

    Main Forts of Rio

    Copacabana Fort Rio de Janeiro

    Copacabana Fort

    The Copacabana Fort was built in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the 20th century (1914) on the promontory occupied by the old church of Our Lady of Copacabana, with the purpose of strengthening the defense of Guanabara Bay. Read more »

    São João Fort Rio de Janeiro

    São João Fort

    The history of the São João Fort, located in the Urca neighborhood, is closely linked to the founding of the city of São Sebastião de Rio de Janeiro, as it was one of the city’s first military sites. Read more »

    Leme Fort Rio de Janeiro

    Leme Fort

    A winding and charming 800-meter-long ascent path crosses through a lush forest to reach the top of the Morro de Leme and its Fort, which since the 18th century was established as an important surveillance point. Read more »

    Santa Cruz Fort Rio de Janeiro

    Santa Cruz Fort

    Established as a Portuguese defensive installation since 1567, the Santa Cruz da Barra Fort was born under the name of Bateria de Nossa Senhora da Guia and its strategic location in Niteroi, on the other side of Guanabara Bay. Read more »

    São Luiz or do Pico Fort Rio de Janeiro

    São Luiz or do Pico Fort

    Located in the Jurujuba neighborhood in Niteroi, the São Luiz Fort was an important defensive site whose origins date back to 1567 at which time a military watch post already existed there. Read more »

    Conceição Fort Rio de Janeiro

    Conceição Fort

    Located on the Morro da Conceição, in the Saúde neighborhood in the center of Rio de Janeiro, and with a privileged view over the Guanabara Bay, the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Fort had its origins in the 18th century French invasion. Read more »

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