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Fort Pau Amarelo

On 24 May 1938, under number 84, Fort Pau Amarelo was inscribed in the book of Fine Arts as a National Monument.

Fort Pau Amarelo

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 06/01/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - Retired researcher at the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

It was precisely because it was an excellent anchorage that the Dutch landed on 14 February 1630 on the beach of Pau Amarelo, on the northern coast of Pernambuco, with 65 vessels and a contingent of 7,280 men under the command of Admiral Hendrick Corneliszoon Lonck.

On 15 September 1703, a Royal Charter ordered the construction of a fort for defence purposes, since the coast was unprotected to resist an enemy invasion.

Engineer Luis Francisco Pimentel was tasked with designing the fort. However in 1707, during the construction of the fort, the engineer drowned in the River Doce. His original design, which was painted in watercolour, is at the Ultramarino Historical Archive in Lisbon, Portugal.

That is why it was only in 1719, in a beautiful area full of coconut palms on the beach of Pau Amarelo, that the Portuguese began building the Fort of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres [Our Lady of Joy] of Pau Amarelo. It is interesting that work was only completed in 1738, although there were two walls and some foundations that could not be completed.

In 1801, the fortress had twelve 10 and 40 calibre cannons. Sixteen years later, the fort’s artillery was composed of 3 bronze pieces, 24 iron pieces, a garrison of 14 soldiers and a lieutenant in command. In 1808, after the blueprints of the place arrived from Lisbon properly designed and calculated, Fort Pau Amarelo was rebuilt completely.

The fortress is quite large with two sentry-boxes in front of the sea (for the soldiers to control the entrance of the invaders), an arsenal, nine banquettes, seven cannon bays, a ramp 18 spans wide and 85 long, lodging for the troops, a dungeon, a bunker, houses for the command and a chapel, whose patroness is Our Lady of Joy.

It is worth noting that the beginning of the settlement of Pau Amarelo dates from the construction of the Fort. The same can be said in relation to the Chapel of Our Lady of Ó, which is located in the vicinity of the fortress and has the date of 1811 on its frontispiece.

On 24 May 1938, under number 84, Fort Pau Amarelo was inscribed in the book of Fine Arts as a National Monument.

Recife, 22 March 2004.
(Updated on 5 May 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.

sources consulted

BARBOSA, Antônio. Relíquias de Pernambuco – Guia aos monumentos históricos de Olinda e Recife.São Paulo: Editora Fundo Educativo Brasileiro, 1983.

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Pernambuco preservado: histórico dos bens tombados no Estado de Pernambuco. Recife: Edição do Autor, 2002.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Forte de Pau Amarelo. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.