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Museum Of The Armed Forces

Luanda, Angola

The Museum of the Armed Forces (Museu das Forças Armadas) is located in Fortaleza de São Miguel de Luanda, is located on the old mount of São Paulo, currently called Morro da Fortaleza, near the bridge of Ilha de Luanda, in Angola. It was the first fortification to be erected in Luanda, in the 16th century, during the government of Paulo Dias de Novais, first built-in clay. This material will later be replaced in 1638 by rammed earth and adobe, with works finished in 1689 under the direction of D. João de Lencastre. At that time, it had the shape of a four-pointed star, with the bastioned system, according to the most up-to-date Italian methods of the time, especially those of the master Benedetto da Ravenna.

After the Dutch occupation, it began to be built in masonry in 1705 at the behest of Governor D. Lourenço de Almada, being part of the mandatory works of successive governors. Finally, during the government of D. Francisco de Sousa Coutinho (1764–1772), the works ended, with the construction of a knight's battery, bomb-proof warehouses and a cistern that became known as Cova da Onça, following the Baroque style military, on the basis of ambiguity, plurality and decentralization.

The walls were consolidated in stone and lime at different times, ending in the twentieth century. Thus, Angola's military engineering remained. From the urban point of view, the fortress has always been a landmark in the city's space. In the early days, it was the limit of the cluster that developed towards the southwest, towards Praia do Bispo. Later, around 1648, when Barra da Corimba became silted, the city started to develop towards the north side, on the other side of the hill, thus maintaining its ordering role. Currently, the National Museum of Military History is installed in the fortress.

Founded in 1975, following the independence of Angola, the museum includes bi-motor airplanes, combat vehicles, and diverse arms and artifacts used during the Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974), the South African Border War (1966-1991), and the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002).

The museum also contains statuary which ornamented the avenues and plazas of colonial Luanda, which were removed after independence. These include the statue of Diogo Cão, the first European to set foot in Angola, of Paulo Dias de Novais, founder of the city of São Paulo da Assunção de Luanda, of Vasco da Gama, and of famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, among others.

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