Tuesday, 17 January 2012

I have been to ... Fort São Brás, Punta Delgada in the Azores

Fort São Brás is located at one end of the seafront promenade in Punta Delgada in the Azores. It is the earliest example of a star fort built in Portugal, and its construction during the sixteenth century was supervised by Tommaso Benedetto. It became the Military Museum of the Azores in June 2006. It remains under military control and certain parts of the fort are off limits to visitors.

Entrance and Gate Guardian
The entrance is guarded by a rifled muzzle-loading cannon that dates from 1876.

It is also guarded by a sentry, in this case a member of the Portuguese Military Police.

Just inside the entrance is the Reception, where entrance tickets can be bought. They cost three Euros for an adult, which seemed good value. Almost opposite the Reception is a Temporary Exhibits Room, which at the time of my visit housed an exhibition about Portuguese military operations in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea. Unfortunately this room was too badly lit for me to take photographs, which was a great pity as it contained some very interesting exhibits.

Just outside the São Brás Fortification Interpretation Room (which tells the history of the fort) are located two examples of 47mm (3-pounder) Hotchkiss rapid-fire guns.

The Weapons Square (Praça de Armas)
This square houses example of artillery and vehicles used by the Portuguese Army, including a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun, …

… two different sizes of Mercedes-Benz Unimog truck, …

… and a 57mm anti-tank gun (the American version of the British 6-pounder).

Passing through a tunnel from The Weapons Square (Praḉa de Armas)

… you go under the ramparts to the next part of the Museum (The Prince Regent Battery). On your way you pass a Heavy Machine Gun Outpost that was built during World War II.

Prince Regent Battery
This houses an exhibit entitled ‘200 years of Weaponry’. The exhibits include an Italian-made 105mm pack howitzer, …

… a field kitchen trailer, …

… a military motorcycle, …

… a 120mm mortar, …

… and a 106mm recoilless gun.

In the hallway between the Prince Regent Battery and the numerous Nineteenth Century Bomb Bunkers there is another example of a 47mm (3-pounder) Hotchkiss rapid-fire gun.

Nineteenth Century Bomb Bunkers
One of the smaller bunkers houses a fine example of a French-made 75mm field gun.

The next bunker contains an exhibition of ‘Anti-vehicle Weaponry’ that includes another 106mm recoilless gun …

… and an anti-tank missile and launcher.

Once you leave the bunker tunnels, you climb steps up onto the fortress walls.

Fortress Walls
Once on top of the walls you have an excellent view of the inside of the fort.

Mounted on the seaward walls are examples of light coastal defence guns.

These appeared to be ex-naval guns.

You conclude your visit by walking around the walls and going back down the stairs (via the Nineteenth Century Bomb Bunkers) to the exit.

I spent about an hour looking around Fort São Brás and came away feeling that it was well worth the entrance cost. The museum is still being developed and I hope to go back for another visit at some time in the future.


  1. Conrad Kinch,

    For such a small museum it contained a good deal of kit, quite a lot of which I could not photograph because of poor light in some of the rooms.

    All the best,


  2. Hi Bob

    Good reads, thanks.

    Glad your trip was not rocky...


  3. Arthur,

    I am glad that you liked it.

    One of the joys of travelling with P&O is the fact that they do take safety very seriously ... unlike some other cruise companies, whose personnel have not always struck me as being as well trained nor careful of their own or other people's safety.

    All the best,


  4. Hi Bob,

    Lovely pictures with lots of kit on display. I liked the French 75 and the rather fetching paint job on the naval guns.

    All the best,


  5. David Crook,

    It was a very complete example of a field gun from that era ... which is quite rare.

    The camouflage pattern on the coastal defence guns looked bit too modern to me ... but nonetheless, it was quite eye catching.

    All the best,



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