Fort of São Sebastião

As previously mentioned in this space, the Fort of São Sebastião is the oldest European base south of the equator. According to Wiki, the Portugese took over the former Arab trading post around 1507 and spent 50 years building this massive structure from locally quarried coral blocks.

This is the courtyard of the pentagonal fort. Each corner is an armed tower, except for the one over the church. From what our guide Mohammed told us (he goes by Henry as well), it sounds like the Portugese barely managed to keep hold on the fort, with all these bandits and Dutch and everyone else attacking the island. On a barrier island, water supply is no joke. The roof was cleverly built in tilted segments with a series of drains and pipes to collect water.

This is the underground pool in the courtyard where the water from the roof is collected. It's quite beautiful and cool. Muhammed/Henry for scale. They wash clothes out of it now, there is some rumor that the water is "bad" and not drinkable. Not sure why - the bottom of the tank is certainly above high tide level. Maybe the World Bank survey team which was at work while we were there has a plan for cleaning out the water tank. Sure would be useful to this little island if it could be drinking water supply.

Bandits/pirates/ enemies of the state who were captured by the Portugese would serve: 6 months solitary confinement (open air but no roof); 24 months hard labor; followed by execution (firing wall shown below). Of course, this was the privilege of white pirates. Black pirates (captured alive) were immediately sold.

A man and his spitsail barquo - seen through the ramparts of the fort.

The canons were mounted on ironwood rockers - the wood was brought from Portugal. Even in the church (future post) the beams are curved and scarfed - looking suspiciously like a ship's keel

This is the little door next to the windowless block where slaves were kept, after being kidnapped all over Africa by white slave traders and also black Africans. The slaves spent weeks or months crowded in the tiny room before they were pushed out this door to a waiting ship.

** In case you're wondering, the pronounciation is strangely just like "San Sebastian", but pao (bread) is "pow", not "pan". Portugese is weird.

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