Fort Santana, Now a Arms Museum
Destination Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina.
A fortress, now a arms museum, at the basis of Ponte Hercílio Luz.
For a long time, Southern Brazil was disputed by both the Spanish and the Portuguese. When Portuguese colonists settled themselves on the island of Santa Catarina, they quickly built a system of fortresses, in order to protect themselves against possible Spanish attacks.
When Silva Paes became governor of the capitania of Santa Catarina in 1739, the construction of the first fortress was started soon: Fortaleza de Santa Cruz, on a small island – Anhatomirim – in the north. Less than one year later, when the Portuguese realized the exceptional strategic value of the island, two more fortresses were built. Fortaleza de Santo Antônio, which was built on another small island – Raton Grande – in in the north, and Fortaleza de São José da Ponta Grossa, between the beaches of Daniela and Jurerê, on the island of Santa Catarina. These three fortresses formed a defense triangle of the northern part of the island.
In 1742, the construction of the fourth fortress was started: Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, on the island of Araçatuba, in the south. Despite the defense systems, the Spaniards managed to conquer the island and the city, without meeting any resistance. As a result of the Treaty of Santo Ildefonso (1777), the island of Santa Catarina was assigned to the Portuguese Crown, with the condition that no marine base should be built on the island.
However, more fortresses were built. Forte de São Francisco was built at Praia de Fora. Fortaleza de Santana, was built at a protrusion, where Ponte Hercílio Luz, a bridge that connects the island with the mainland, was built at a later time. Next to Fortaleza de São José da Ponta Grossa, a battery, Bateria de São Caetano, was installed. And another fortress, Forte de São Luiz, was built at Praia de Fora. At present, the fortresses, now maintained by the UFSC, are open for visitors.
More information about the fortresses: Projeto Fortalezas Multimídia.
In 1761, construction of Forte de Santana do Estreito was started, after a project of military engineer José Custódio de Sá e Faria. The function of this fortress was to provide protection to Vila de Nossa Senhora do Desterro, which is now called Florianópolis. At the other side, on the mainland, a batter of canons was installed at Forte São João, at a later time. Both fortresses could cover each other. However, in 1893, there was a real firefight BETWEEN the two fortresses. During the Federalist Revolution, the rebelling garrison was shot at. In 1969, the fortress, with the six cannons, was restored completely. Since 1975, the Arms Museum of the Military Police of Santa Catarina was moved to the fortress. Below, a photo impression of the fortress:
Museu da Polícia Militar Major Lara Ribas is named after the commander who was heading the Military Police of Santa Catarina two times. Coronel Antônio de Lara Ribas was responsible of the cataloging of the seized weapons, and evaluated the historical value of these weapons. The museum hosts an interesting collection of various weapons, including complete cannons.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom