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In 1631, at the southern entrance to the Santa Cruz Channel on the island of Itamaracá, Pernambuco, the Dutch built Fort Orange to protect access to the landing and embarkation of ships destined for the ports of Igarassu and Vila da Conceição (later Vila Schkoppe).
Fort Orange, dominating the access to these settlements, is quadrangular in shape, with all acute angles forming a vertex, and a curved entrance whose corridor is flanked by two orders of rifle ports. The fort also has four ramparts, and is surrounded by a crude stone defensive wall.
To protect the port, Fort Orange was armed with twelve cannons: six iron and six bronze; and to the north, with three pieces of iron; and a tower guarding the channel entrance. On its battery were mounted eleven cannons: two bronze and nine iron.
In 1654, with the defeat of the Dutch, Fort Orange was totally ruined. However, as the Captaincy of Itamaracá was once again owned by the Portuguese, they restored the fort in 1696 and exchanged the old Dutch symbols for the arms of the Kingdom of Portugal.
In 1745, the fortification was well equipped with military equipment: 26 iron cannons of 5 to 28 calibre, and 3 bronze pieces of 12 to 20 calibre.
In the inner courtyard of Fort Orange is a deep well for the supply of drinking water. The buildings of the barracks, warehouses, dungeons and chapel can also be seen. The shield of the Portuguese arms, with a cross in the middle, is engraved on the gate. Only 21 cannons remain from the artillery that was dismantled, with the arms and the emblems in relief on their breeches.
In a survey carried out by the Federal University of Pernambuco’s Archaeology Laboratory in 1971, the barracks, kitchen, parades and the chapel of the primitive fort (when it was still in Dutch hands) were identified, as well as ammunition and cannons of various calibres.
The Orange Fort was partially restored in the year 1973, by the Secretary of National Historic and Artistic Patrimony (SPHAN).
Recife, 22 March 2004.
(Updated on 28 April 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.
SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Pernambuco preservado: histórico dos bens tombados no Estado de Pernambuco. Recife: Edição do Autor, 2002.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Forte Orange. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.