The Maputo Fortress is located next to the Fishing Port at Praça 25 de Junho and represents one of the main historical monuments of the city.
It has a square plan, erected in reddish stone masonry. It has only one access gate that opens onto a central courtyard, also of square shape, for which, in turn, the various rooms that make up the building open. The equestrian statue of Mouzinho de Albuquerque currently stands in this courtyard, which, before the Independence of Mozambique, was in front of the Lourenço Marques City Hall.
Here lie the remains of Ngungunhane, transferred from Terceira Island, in the Azores, in 1985.
The primitive structure at the site was a fortified factory built about a quarter of a mile from the mouth of the Espírito Santo River, by Dutchmen from Cape Town. The expedition was made up of 113 men, under the command of Klaas Nieuhof, on two ships, the “Gouda” and the “Caap”. Having left the Cape on February 19, 1721, they reached Maputo Bay in early April. Obtained authorization from the local chief, they started a pentagonal wooden fort: Forte Lagoa. With difficulties of all kinds, in about six months, about half of Europeans had perished, mainly from malaria. Even with the arrival of reinforcements, coming from the Cape by the ships “Zeelandia” and “Uno”, bringing 72 more men and supplies, the panorama has not changed.
On the morning of April 11, 1722, three English pirate ships under the command of Captain George Taylor, who operated in the waters of the Mozambique channel, entered the bay of Maputo, pursued by four ships of the English Company of the East Indies, the “Lion “,” Salisbury “,” Exeter “and” Shoreham “.
The pirate vessels were the “Victory”, artillery with 64 cannons, the “Cassandra”, with 36, and a French boat captured off the island of Santa Maria (present Madagascar). In total, they had a staff of 900 men. On April 18, they decided to capture the Dutch factory, which they began to bomb, capturing a boat and the ship “De Caap”, until, at 5 pm, the white flag of surrender was raised.
Knowing that Van de Capelle, the second in command, had escaped to the countryside with eighteen men, the British demanded his immediate return, under pain of devastating the establishment. Without the Dutch returning, the fort and factory were destroyed by the British, who withdrew two months later, in late June.
Subsequently, a new fortification was erected on the site, now by Austrian forces under the command of William Bolts – Fort São José -, in 1777, being evicted from there in March 1781, by a Portuguese expedition from Goa under the command of Lieutenant- Colonel Joaquim Godinho de Mira, aboard the frigate “Sant’Anna”. In the report that this officer sent to the Governor of the Portuguese State of India, D. Frederico Guilherme de Sousa, informs:
“(…) On the 30th of the same [March] I entered the Espírito Santo River, having with a lot of rigging work happily passed through the many lows that the Bahia de Lourenço Marques is full of. Within that river three gávea vessels were anchored : one with Portuguese flag and passport passed by the governor of Damão, José de Oliveira Leitão, another with English flag, whose owners of the first are from Surat, and Bombay those of the second, finally the third vessel that was a mast and a half mast, I had an Imperial flag, belonging to the Trieste Company, between this and a battery of thirteen pieces that was on land with the same Imperial flag, I went to anchor. Only an outbreak had my troops to carry out the determinations of you, participated in Instruction, and sending part of it with its competent officers to take possession of the Imperial visor that was anchored, prevented for any resistance that was made to it, and with order not to the slightest hostility, that was done, and the entry without the least resistance or offense; I left it on board to command Captain-Lieutenant Francisco Lobo da Gama with a competent garrison, and I with some troops headed for the earth battery (the entrenched field of S. José), which I entered without resistance, I sent immediately put down the Imperial flag, and on the following day, April 1, in the morning, hoist the Portuguese flag, saving it with twenty-one shots; to this salvo replied the frigate with the same number; I immediately had the cleaning done, disassembled and led the artillery on board the frigate, demolished the battery, immediately sending the two sea lieutenants Cândido José Mourão Garcez Palha and Christovão da Costa Athaide, on board the other two vessels that were there. “