History of the Fortress



Census data from the census commissioned by King João III: 47 households in Peniche de Cima and 44 in Ribeira (Peniche de Baixo)- a total of about 800 residents

1544 (15 July)
Following the attack by French corsairs, D. Afonso de Ataíde, the Count of Atouguia, wrote to King João III advocating the need to defend the site and the port of Ribeira (Peniche-de-Baixo).

Beginning of the Peniche fortification works. King João III ordered D. Luís de Ataíde to build a bastion with a tower on the site of Alto da Vela.

Completion of construction of the Round Bastion, attributed to Diogo Teles and revealing the influence of the strongholds of southern England, particularly Pendennis Castle (1540-1543), applying theoretical principles of Albrecht Dürer’s treatise of 1527.

Start of the fortress works under the command of the master of works Gonçalo de Torralva. Interruption of the works in 1578 due to the departure for India of Luís da Ataíde, appointed Viceroy.

1589 (26 May)
Landing of the Luso-British naval force, consisting of about 155 ships and 6 500 men, with the aim of placing D. António Prior do Crato on the Portuguese throne. After taking the Fortress, this military force would go to Lisbon.

King Filipe II sent Filippo Terzi to Peniche to consolidate the Round Fort and the walls and to study improvement options.

King Filipe III to the viceroy D. Pedro de Castilho “order Leonardo Turriano my engineer who is going to see the fort and area of this Penyche and view the alleged defects for himself and first see the works carried out with the money of the Infantrymen and of which said Leonardo Turriano will make drawings and give an opinion that you will send to me”.

The military engineer Luis Gabriel was commissioned by the king to oversee the water supply works, study the drawing of a bridge to facilitate access to the town and manage the works of the Fortress.

1609 (12 November)
King Filipe III elevated Peniche to the status of village and county seat.

1640 (1 December)
Restoration of independence.

King João IV ordered the recognition of the Peniche site: “… I have ordered Father Simão Falónio of the Society of Jesus and Sergeant Mor Belchior Lopes de Carvalho to recognize the Peniche site for fortification”.

1642 (31 May)
The Council of War, established by King João IV, referring to the delay in the Peniche fortification works, mentions this “place of such great importance and the main gateway to the Kingdom from the sea”.

The Council of War sent master engineer Charles Lassart to Peniche to inspect the works and ascertain the need to modify the project. Lassart produced a new drawing – “in most parts of the island there is nowhere that can
be used for construction as shown in the drawing produced by the French master-Engineer.”

Completion of the works as certified by the inscription on the door of the Fortress.

King João IV travelled to Peniche to inspect the works.

1657 (7 August)
D. António Luís de Meneses, Charles Lassart and Simão Mateus travelled to Peniche to produce a better drawing of the bulwarked front; they agreed “that the town should be fortified from sea to sea with two ramparts and two centres”. The drawing of Simão Mateus was approved by Carlos Lassart, but the geomorphological characteristics forced the wall backwards towards the north.

Beginning of the works of the front bulwark.

Completion of construction of the walled section of the military square, based on the inscription in the Round Fort that was originally exhibited in the Forte das Cabanas.

The Peniche Legion was created and, in 1707, was designated the Peniche Infantry Regiment.

1759 (January)
As part of the Távoras case, instigated by the Marquis of Pombal, the properties of the Ataídes (relatives of the Távoras) were confiscated and their coat of arms removed – these are now in the Round Fort and the Entrance Gate of the citadel.

Remodelling of the chapel of Santa Bárbara.

1793 (April)
Between 1793 and 1795, the Peniche Infantry Regiment was involved in the so-called War of the Roussillon, between Spain and France, receiving the privilege of inscribing the motto “To the courage of the Peniche Infantry Regiment” on its flag.

1807 (8 December)
The Peniche military square was occupied by a Franco-Spanish military contingent, under the command of General Thomières, who established himself in the Fortress.

The Peniche military square was recaptured by the English and Portuguese, commanded by General Richard Blunt.

Transfer to the Fortress of Peniche of a hundred Liberals, including General Bernardo Correia de Castro and Sepúlveda and the Marquis of Fronteira, from the Castelo and Limoeiro jails in Lisbon.

1833 (25 July)
The Fortress garrison left the military square, after learning of the defeat of the Miguelista troops. On the same day, the liberal troops, commanded by Baron de Sá da Bandeira, occupied the Fortress.

1837 (19 October)
Explosion in one of the fortress armouries, followed by fire, which destroyed the Governor’s Palace, of 17th century design.

Installation of the Spanish Emigrants Depot in the Fortress, consisting of troops that had participated in the failed liberal coup of 2 of January of 1866, led by general Joan Prim i Prats.

1894 (2 June)
Installation of the Brazilian Emigrants Depot in the Fortress (a group of 148 Brazilian political refugees, who participated in the 1893 Naval Revolt against the republican government of Floriano Peixoto.

368 Boer refugees arrived in Peniche from South Africa and were accommodated in the Fortress and elsewhere in the village, until 18 July, 1902.

Visit carried out as part of the social work of the republican newspaper O Século, with the aim of evaluating the possibility of establishing a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in the Fortress.

Installation of a Internment Camp of German and Austro-Hungarian nationals in the Fortress. These prisoners were only released in October 1919, following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

Installation of the Peniche Prisoners Depot in the Fortress, intended for opponents of the Estado Novo dictatorship.

Start of the building works for a new prison in the Fortress, formed by prison blocks based on the American model. The so-called Fort of Peniche Jail was created.

1960 (3 January)
It was the site of the most important of the several recorded escapes from political prison. A group of Portuguese Communist Party members, including Alvaro Cunhal, the party’s historic leader, escaped from the high security wing of Block C.

1974 (27 April)
Release of political prisoners after the triumph of the Carnation Revolution

Until February 1976, at the orders of the Movement of the Armed Forces, former political agents remained in the Fortress prison facilities.

1977 (21 September)
Installation of a Refugee Reception Centre in the Fortress, run by the Portuguese Red Cross, receiving more than five hundred returnees from the former colonies. The centre closed on 31 December, 1982.

Peniche Municipal Council established several cultural and recreational facilities in the Fortress, in particular the Peniche Museum (the present day Municipal Museum of Peniche), with a section dedicated to the Resistance.

2017 (27 April)
The Government of Portugal, meeting in Council of Ministers in the Fortress of Peniche, decided to create the National Museum of Resistance and Freedom in this place.