São José Fort

Built for the purpose of defending the maritime entrance to Funchal, São José Fort is currently a very special place of interest. For its historical importance, as well as for the panoramic view over the Atlantic that it offers, it is a monument to be included in any tour of the capital of Madeira.

This fortification stands on a rock formation known as 'Ilhéu de São José'. History tells us that this was the place where João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, the discoverers of Madeira, took shelter when they arrived on the island, which was then covered with dense vegetation.

Later, in the mid-18th century, São José Fort was built here. It should be noted that, at the time, the strengthening of the city's defensive infrastructures was essential, given the central role played by the port of Funchal in commercial trade. However, with the occupation of Madeira by British troops between 1801 and 1807, this fort ended up serving as headquarters for the invaders and later as a prison.

For a long time, the building was undervalued. However, the undeniable historical, architectural and cultural relevance of Forte de São José motivated the effort to revitalise this space by a private individual who acquired it.


History tells us that the islet where São José Fort was built in the 18th century was the first shelter for the island's discoverers when they arrived.

Keep in Touch
Subscribe and receive in your e-mail important information about your favourite holiday destination.