Fort Amsterdam lies at the entrance of Great Bay controlling the boat access to Philipsburg St.Maarten. Imagine yourself in the past centuries when there were pirates, buccaneers and colonials wars between different European countries. That was the purpose of Fort Amsterdam, to protect Philipsburg and Sint Maarten from invasion whether pirates of the Caribbean of other countries.
To go to Fort Amsterdam you need to take the road that lie along the coast from Philipsburg toward Simpson Bay. Then you go toward the Divi resorts, you park your car on the parking and then you follow the signs. The entrance to Fort Amsterdam is free.
When looking at the western exterior wall of Fort Amsterdam, you can see the various stone materials of the earlier basalt rock and the later cut limestone. It indicates the various reconstruction periods of the fort walls,including a red brick lined drainage arch which allowed waste water to be expelled from the Fort interior.
The Southern Bastion overlooks Little Bay where a 1644 attack by the Dutch, commanded by Pieter Stuyvesant, failed to recapture the Fort from the Spanish.
A cannonball from that attack is still embedded in the wall.
It is reported that Pieter Stuyvesant, who later became the Governor of New Amsterdam (New York), lost his leg in that battle,which earned him the name of “Peg Leg Piet” Stuyvesant.
The Spanish eventually abandoned the Fort in 1648, dismantling large parts of the fort walls to be shipped to Puerto Rico before the Dutch reoccupied the Fort that same year.
The Dutch maintained Fort Amsterdam until 1816 when it stopped to function a a part of the Sint Maarten defense system.
The south Bastion is a part of the extensive reconstructions at the fort done by John Philips in 1735-1737.
2 differetns periods of construction can be seen a this bastion. There are some earlier Spanish built floors and a central trench and later Dutch built floors that suggest a wooden floor was built atop support planks set in the stone floor.
The 3 cannon placements on this bastion would have protected to the south, as well as to Great Bay on the east and to Little Bay on the west.It had probably larger 30 pounder cannons for much longer range distances.
Signal House radio station
The signal house was originally built in the late 19th century as the signal Master’s use, while he operated the signal mast to communicate information to the town of Philipsburg about arriving ships.
In 1919-1921 the first St Maarten telegraph office was built near the Fort. The stone house was reused into the 20th century as a PJD-2 radio station,which broadcast from 1962 until 1985.
In the 1970’s, a radio tower mast was placed at this bastion. The triangular shaped foundation remains can be seen with the mast having been blown down by hurricane Luis in 1995.
From this bastion can be seen the islands of Saba, Statia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Barts.