Posted by: lrrp | October 7, 2005

Madagascar a mysterious settlement – the Portuguese fort near Tolanaro by Marco Ramerini

The big island of Madagascar was discovered in 1500 by a Portuguese fleet under the command of Diogo Dias. The Portuguese called the new discovered island Ilha de São Lourenço.

The island was visited several times during the XVI and XVII centuries but never permanently settled. Lots of shipwrecks wasted along its coasts.

In the year of 1613 the Vice Roy Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo sent a Portuguese expedition to explore the shores of the island. This expedition discovered that “gente branca” (white people) were lived in a place in the southern side of the island. These white people had settled in a river island they had called the island of Santa Cruz.

The Portuguese expedition visited the place. In the island, was found a stone tower or a fort with two doors, there was then a fine marble “Padrão” with two faces. On one side was carved the coat of arms of Portugal with the following words underneath: REX PORTUGALENSIS. On the other side the Holy Cross was carved and, close to the Padrão on the ground there was a stone cross. The expedition also found three graves with crosses.

It is speculated that this settlement was built by Portuguese that at the beginning of the XVI century (1505 ? 1527 ?) somehow had survived a shipwreck.

A chronicler of the XVII century referred that the local population massacred the Portuguese having settled this place. The chronicler also stated that at his own time (1600) there were many Mestiços born from a mixed crossbreed between the shipwrecked people and the local inhabitants.

Still today, in the XX century, near Tolanaro or Fort Dauphin, in an island at the mouth of the Vinanibe River the remains of this settlement are visible. The fort is square shaped and it is a very important historical witness, because it is the first European building build in Madagascar.

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