Sitting atop a hill at a commanding height above its surrounds, facing out to the Savu Sea to the north and across the Indonesian border to the west, in years past the Balibó Fort was a vital strategic holding for Portuguese colonists.
The Balibo Trust estimates the fort to be 350-370 years old, and it is believed to be the second-oldest such fort in East Timor. According to the trust’s website, the fort was built by the Portuguese, who wanted to protect their colony of Batugade. Balibó’s height and its location at a crossroads of travel routes made it an ideal strategic location for a defensive structure.
Today, the former fort is home to a modern, heritage-influenced hotel, and a café and restaurant with panoramic views from the mountains to the ocean. The Balibo Fort Hotel forms part of the social enterprising overseen by the Balibo Trust, which established the nearby Balibo Dental Clinic and Community Centre, and has made substantial contributions to local schooling infrastructure.