Visiting this place was quite an experience. On the day we were here the sky was very grey, which added a kind of spooky feeling to the ambience of the place. The text below tells the story more accurately than I could so please read on.
Praia do Forte, a district of Mata de São João, in Bahia, is home to first major site built by the Portuguese colonizers in Brazil: Garcia D'Ávila Castle, also historically known as Casa da Torre (the Tower House) or Torre de Tauapara (Tatuapara Tower). It was built between 1551 and 1624 by Garcia D'Ávila and Francisco Dias D'Ávila as a residence and military stronghold.
The castle is considered the only feudal castle in the Americas; once it was the seat of a property encompassing 800,000 square kilometers, or about one tenth of Brazil's current territory. By the mid-19th century it was in ruins, which later were preserved and turned into a historic park comprising the castle and its surroundings.
Walkways and rails were installed in a way as not to interfere with the ruins, listed in 1937 by IPHAN, the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute.
According to Casa da Torre, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the castle's and the Coconut Coast's history and heritage, the tower stood for nearly three centuries and ten generations as a bastion which played a crucial role in the defense of the Brazilian coast against French and Dutch invasions and pirate attacks; it also provided a safe base for Bahian forces in the battles for the Independence of Brazil following the 1822 Declaration of Independence.
The castle also trailblazed long-distance communications on the Brazilian coast, especially in the 17th century, when its fire signal (almenara) relayed warnings and other agreed signals to a post in São João (current Jacuípe), which in turn transmitted them to Espírito Santo (today's Vila Abrantes); the next posts on this communications network were Itapoã and Rio Vermelho, already within sight of the Santo Antônio da Barra fortress in Salvador.
Garcia D'Avila Foundation
The castle is maintained by the Garcia D'Ávila Foundation, whose mission includes the fostering of sustainable and educational initiatives in the local communities, control of the natural and urban environment, and the preservation of Atlantic Forest remnants in the Sapiranga, Camurugipe and Passagem Grande Reservations as well as of the area's dunes, mangroves and coconut groves.