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Palácio de São Lourenço

Palácio de São Lourenço

It was built from 1529 to 1540 to protect the harbour, the customs house and the homes of the island’s «captain-grantees». After the attacks of the French pirates in 1566, several improvements, alterations and extensions were made to the original building.

Besides being a fortress, it was also the home to Madeira’s «captain-grantees» and to its governors in the late 18th century. This explains why people tend to refer to it as «Palace», rather than as «Fortress».

The building derives its name from the effigy of St. Lawrence on the centre-north bulwark. The Habsburgs were particularly devoted to this saint and the fortress eventually inherited his name.

In 1943, it was classified National Monument and serves as official residence of the Representative of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of Madeira and of the region’s Military Commander.