Fortaleza - a place without which Luanda would not be Luanda
The roots of this building date back to the 16th century, when Paul Dias Noivas began building Luanda. Fortaleza began to be built at the entrance to the city, which separates the beach from Praia de Bispo, the bay. Fortaleza has undergone many changes since its inception.
Angolan beauty with a Dutch name
Between 1641 and 1648, it was occupied by the Dutch, who, together with the then Queen Nzinga Mbandi, defeated the Portuguese, who colonized Angola. During that time, the Dutch renamed Fort Aardenburgh, after a small town on the Dutch-Belgian border.
The definitive name Fortaleza de São Miguel, by which every Angolan knows it, was given in 1650 and is due to the man who expelled the Dutch from Angola, the Portuguese named Salvador Correia.
Cannon as an exceptionality
The fortress served purely military purposes. In 1876 she found the seat of the "Degrados Depot" - a prison. Thousands of Portuguese bandits, criminals and criminals were imprisoned here, including the famous Ze do Telhad.
It played a decisive role in the history of the then kingdom. According to specialists, Fort São Miguel was the only fort in Africa that had its own cannons and could defend itself.
For five hundred years, the fortress was constantly undergoing changes until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1938, it was recognized and designated a national monument and became the Museum of Angola. Beautiful tiled panels date from this period and are decorated with drawings depicting historical episodes of Angola. You can still see them in the arched bowels of the fortress.
Museum, prison and military headquarters
However, the peaceful life of the fortress as a museum did not last long, and in 1961, when the struggle for Angola's independence began, it was again used for military purposes and became the headquarters of the Portuguese army. It became a symbol of the Portuguese occupation. Independence was declared in the square of this fortress - "Dipanda" and here the Portuguese withdrew their flag for the last time.
However, this great moment in Angola's history did not bring peace to the fortress. The period of the civil war began, which brought with it a lot of vicissitudes, suffering and pain for the whole Angolan people.
Fortaleza was used as a point of reference for people who were not allowed to escape punishment, and at the same time they were not allowed a fair trial "we will not waste time on trials" - was the idea of the soldiers of the time.
In 1978, the Fortaleza military fortress again became the Museum of the Armed Forces. However, it remains under military control and also serves as a strategic point to protect Luanda.
The return of the giants
Half-abandoned and full of statues left by the Portuguese, who have been kept underground for years, it leaves its doors open to visitors.
All these beautiful statues are returned to their pedestals and as ghosts they can welcome their visitors. As well as the statues that have returned to their places, the interior, courtyard and walls of this amazing building have also been renovated. It thus undoubtedly becomes one of the most beautiful places in the city, with a beautiful view of Nguimbi - a city that you can go around and see Luanda from all sides. In the courtyard and outdoor areas you can see military cars, weapons, cannons and everywhere you will be observed statues of Diogo Cão - the first European to enter Angola, Paulo Dias de Novais - the founder of Luanda, Vasco da Gama and the famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, or Salvador Correira. Fortaleza has been transformed into the National Museum of Military History and now enjoys a large number of visitors.