As the Portuguese almost completely dominated the North Atlantic routes at those times, the defence of the island did not seem of special importance. Because of this negligence, in 1566 Funchal suffered a terrible pirate attack, where many people were slaughtered.
In spite of the constant danger of another attack, only in 1614 the São Tiago Fort was finally built to protect Funchal from the corsairs. In 1767 it was enlarged and exclusively served military purposes until 1992, year in which Madeira’s Regional Government decided to use it for cultural activities.
Today this fortress accommodates a museum, a permanent as well as temporary expositions and an excellent restaurant with a terrace in a prime location. Under the cover of the Contemporary Art Museum, varied cultural activities take place throughout the year.