Monte Brasil and the three fortresses of Angra
To visit Angra, from the perspective proposed in the title, one has to cover five centuries of visions of the world, from the diversity of military architecture, the concepts of defence and attack, and the developments in artillery and firearms to the appearance of aviation, which will perhaps bring about a better understanding of the world we live in.
Fortress São João Baptista
The huge fortified area (three square kilometres and a five kilometres perimeter) which comprises Monte Brasil, today, stems from the conquest of Terceira Island, in 1583, by Álvaro de Bazán, Marquis of Santa Cruz, who received the title of Álvaro the Great of Spain precisely because he succeeded in taking control of the Azores, after a three year long military campaign.It underwent several modifications and constructions over the years, being, in fact, 500 years of construction of structures with a military character.
Castelo dos Moinhos
The first fortification in the Azores was built on the Hill which is now known as “Outeiro da Memória”, or “Memory Hill”.
Even though it is no longer standing, it was in fact the only castle in the Azores, due to its predominant position and its shape, which was almost certainly square, with semi-circular bastions in the middle of each stretch of wall.
It is possible that part of the raised platform, where the pyramid honoring King Pedro stands, may still contain pieces of this early fortification, and when one observes the place, from the lower part of the town, it is still easy to imagine the castle today.
The Fort of São Sebastião
The fortress, which was designed in the Italian Renaissance style, was well organised, with a perfectly developed system of bulwarks, namely, a triangular platform, built so that the artillery could impede any attempt to enter the bay. It crossed fire with the Fort of São Benedito, on the edge of the coast of Monte Brasil.
During the 1641-2 revolt, the fort was crucial in impeding any Spanish support to Monte Brasil; in order to guarantee the defence of the port, it underwent works on the lower battery, in 1830, in the context of the civil war; in 1943, it housed the first general headquarters of the British forces, who arrived in Angra on October 8 of that year.