Fort Nassau lies on a 68 meter high hill next to the St. Anna Bay in the city of Willemstad, on the Caribbean island of Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles.
Fort Nassau was built in 1797 on the Sablica Hill by the Military Committee of the Curaçao Council to protect the town of Willemstad and war- and merchantships moored in the bay. It was armed with 8 iron eighteen-pounder and 6 iron eight-pounder cannons and 9 metal mortars. The building costs of 60.000 guilders had to be payed by the citizens of Willemstad. In those days the fort was called Fort Republiek after the newly founded Batavian Republic in Holland.
In September 1800 there were 16 French ships from Guadalupe moored in the bay threatening the fort and the town. The Dutch therefore accepted the support of American soldiers from 2 American warships that had also arrived in the bay; the USS Patapsco under commander Geddes and the USS Merrimack under lieutenant Stone. A day later the island was given over the English.
In 1802 Curaçao was returned to the Dutch according to the Treaty of Amiens. In 1803 the Batavian Republic was again at war with the English. And in 1804 Fort Nassau could not prevent the bombardment of Willemstad by English troops under Captain William Bligh (of Bounty-fame) from the captured Fort Waakzaamheid because that fort lay outside the range of its cannons.
In 1807 the cannons of the fort were fired for the first time in its existence at a English naval squadron led by the HMS Arethusa that attacked the town of Willemstad but to no avail. The English again took over Curaçao and renamed the fort; Fort George, after the English King George III.
In 1816, due to the Treaty of Paris, Curaçao was again returned to the Dutch. The fort was again renamed as Fort Orange-Nassau. But in popular speech it got to be known as Fort Nassau. It lost its military function and was used as a lookout post. Its cannons were only fired as warning shots and later only once a day at noon until this tradition was also abolished. The last time a cannon was fired from Fort Nassau was in the evening of August 3rd, 1823. The commander of the fort, first artillery lieutenant Plats, saw 5 sloops being manned from 2 French warships moored in the bay and, fearing military action, fired a warning shot. Luckily, it was a false alarm but Plats was exempted from command.
At present Fort Nassau houses a restaurant and some kind of harbour radar installation but it can be visited freely. A nice fort on a great location.