Ghal’e-ye Portoghaliha

Fortress in Hormoz Island

Some 750m north of the harbour is the famous Portuguese sea fort, probably the most impressive and ambitious colonial fortress built in Iran. Centuries of neglect have seen much of the original structure crumble into the sea, but the thick, muscular-looking walls and rusting cannons give it a haunting beauty. From the port, walk along the waterfront until you reach the fort’s walls, then continue to walk with them on your left.

The archway opens onto a wide courtyard facing the sea. On the right as you enter is the ancient armoury. In the middle of the courtyard is a subterranean church that has some splendid vaulted ceilings. Before following the path marked by stones up onto the ramparts, you can visit the ground-floor room of the watchtower if the door is open. Higher up is another door to the submerged ‘water supply’, a surprisingly deep and impressive cistern encircled by an elevated interior walkway. The crumbling upper levels of the castle offer fine views back over the village to the starkly beautiful mountains, all surrounded by the blue gulf waters; it’s a nice spot to sit, soak up the silence and let your mind wander back a few hundred years.

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