The São João Baptista fort is located on the island of Berlenga Grande.
Its military structure will be the most significant construction of the Berlengas and the most emblematic element of the archipelago.
It is unclear how much the Fort of São João Baptista was built, with unclear testimonies indicating a fortification there since the 16th century.
History of the Fort of San Juan Bautista
Built under the government of D. João IV.
It is located on the island of Berlenga Grande.
Its current configuration dates from 1651.
The design of the São João Baptista fort is irregular. Still, it has six sides, revealing a creative solution for 17th-century military architecture, given the particular morphology of the place where the fort was erected.
The Fort of San Juan Bautista has several compartments connected by an underground corridor. Pointing toward the sea were eleven artillery pieces in positions that can still be seen today.
It should be noted that part of the stone used in its construction was removed from the ruins of the former Monastery of Mercy, which was previously nearby.
However, its current configuration dates from 1651, when D. João IV ordered the construction (or reconstruction) of the fortress to face the frequent incursions of pirates and corsairs and the possibility of a Spanish attack (note that it was in the middle of the war). Restoration), which actually happened.
But before that, it resisted 1655, an attack carried out by three Ottoman ships that bombarded the fort before withdrawing.
Berlengas Island in Timelapse
Curiosities of the fort of San Juan Bautista
Was the São João Baptista Fort attacked?
In 1667, the São João Baptista Fort was in a fierce battle. That year it was struck by a Spanish fleet that had already plagued several coastal towns and attacked fishing boats and Portuguese ships.
Between June 28 and July 1, the fort was surrounded and ended up surrendering to unequal forces: its garrison was 28 men, commanded by António Avelar Pessoa (the same man who gave the name to the main ship that today ensures the connection between Berlengas and Peniche), while the attack squadron, led by Diego Ibarra, was made up of 15 ships manned by 1,500 men.
Was the São João Baptista fort destroyed?
The Spanish withdrew, destroying the defense, which later was rebuilt after being used as a prison between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century.
It also saw some action during the Peninsular War, when British troops stayed to help fight Napoleon’s French troops. During the Liberal Wars, forces loyal to D. Pedro conquered the fort from the Miguelistas, using it later. as a base for the attack and the conquest of the Peniche fortress.
What happened to the fort of San Juan Bautista after it was abandoned?
In 1914 it was no longer used for military purposes, and with the departure of the last elements of the garrison it was let go José Morgado was left behind with the almost symbolic functions of guarding the fort, knowing that until the 1930s, the dedicated employee hoisted and hoisted the national flag on Sundays and holidays. In that decade, some maintenance work was carried out. In the 50s, it was fully recovered after being transformed into a guest house by the General Directorate of National Buildings and Monuments.
What are the different sections of the fort?
Stone masonry access bridge
Photographs of the Berlengas fortress in Portugal.