Built 1629 on the site of a battery which sank one of the warships' The Golias' of the Dutch invaders, the original fortress of S. Francisco stood at the end of old Praia Grande, facing the Taipa channel. Its armaments included a culverin, which could fire 35-pound iron shots a distance of one and a half miles (the width of the channel). Little more is known of the original fort or the convent of S. Francisco, which was attached to it.
Both fort and convent were demolished to make way for new barracks in 1864, to house the Battalion of the First Line, brought in as defence against a Chinese attack which never came. The barracks survive today as headquarters for the Security Forces and sections of the Police Force. They present an attractive, colonial facade of pink-washed stone with white trim. Inside are offices and meeting rooms around a flag-stoned courtyard, in the spacious lobby are display cases filled with old prints and pictures of the previous fort and convent, a collection of old weapons and other.