Under a determination of D. Manuel I, King of Portugal, it was decided to build a fortress in 1513. From that era, or the following decades, is still clearly visible today in the east tower, the royal arms, the armillary sphere and the cross of Christ. The works were commissioned by João Cáceres, later augmented by interventions during the reign of King John III and after the onslaught of French privateers in 1566.
During the Filipino Period there were also introduced important changes, with the construction of new flagships of the responsibility of Mateus Fernandes e Jerónimo Jorge.
For various conditions and successive amendments that occurred, the Fortress of São Lourenço has turned into the Governors Palace in Madeira, fully assumed only in the eighteenth century.
The administrative division of powers, civil and military, in 1836, provoked a split in the physical occupation of the palace. The east area, before the liability of the Military Governor, is under the supervision of the Command of Military Zone of Madeira.
The western area, corresponding to the key dependencies and lofty halls, before close to the Governor, have been linked since 1976 to the Minister of the Republic in Madeira and from 2004, to the Representative of the Republic in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and his official residence. These rooms feature a decorative set, consisting of decorative arts, both European and Portuguese, originally either from the old Palace itself, or by transfers from the National Palace, from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
It should be noted, for example, the presence of an exceptional series of French-style furniture "Boulle", coming from the Palácio Real da Ajuda, in Lisbon. Interestingly is the gallery of royal portraits as D. João V. and D. José or, still stand out, the portrait of D. João VI, painted by Leonardo Joaquim da Rocha, who was very active in Madeira.
DRAC Madeira - Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais (Madeira)