Monte Brasil and the three fortresses of Angra

By looking down at the town of Angra, from the Memória hillside, from the walls of the fortress of São Sebastião, to the east of the bay, or from the Pico das Cruzinhas, at the heart of Monte Brasil or from the fortress of São João Baptista, to the west, one can revisit more than three fortified locations.

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.

Monte Brasil

A little over 20,000 years ago, a small volcano emerged on the south coast of Terceira Island, which until that point had been quite round, creating the most imposing volcanic structure on the Azorean coast. Tectonically, Monte Brasil was formed by a system of faults parallel to the Terceira rift, an oceanic spreading centre which crosses the archipelago of the Azores, including the eastern part of Terceira Island, encompassing the Cinco Picos and Guilherme Moniz-Pico Alto volcanoes. What can be seen today results from two distinct phases of eruption, separated by a dormant period.
Access is subject to hours from Monday to Sunday between 08:00 and 21:00.

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.
Contacts for information and booking guided tours of the fortress: (+351) 295 218 383 or

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.

You can visit this place from Jardim Duque da Terceira.

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.

Today integrated in the Network of Pousadas de Portugal.
Professionals who can guide you on this roadmap:

Filipe Rocha

Guia Turístico

Filipe Rocha

Guia Turístico

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