On Tuesday, 11th of February, 1575, a Portuguese contingent comprising seven boats and seven hundred men, lead by Paulo Dias de Novais, approached the island from its Southern side, riding the prevailing winds. They entered through Barra da Corimba, passed along a strip of sea and settled on the island embracing the Bay of Luanda. The initial Portuguese settlement was formed by an assembly of wooden houses, a captaincy and a church.
On Saturday, the 26th of June, 1576, after protracted negotiations with the indigenous authorities, the Portuguese shifted their settlement to the mainland, to Morro de S. Paulo [hill, later renamed Morro de S. Miguel], facing the Mussulo peninsula. They erected a military stronghold and founded the city of Luanda. The site offered abundant natural protection, with the island acting as a barrier, and an extensive plateau facilitating military control.
As a consequence of the initial settlement, Luanda’s administrative centre gradually developed. The Governor’s palace was erected in 1607 and plans for the city’s fortification were drawn-up in Portugal. These included 9 fortresses distributed along the coastline, both to the North and South of the initial settlement. But despite these improvements, the Dutch, armed with a fleet of 21 boats (16 of which high calibre) and a force of approximately 3,000 men (2,106 soldiers, 900 sailors), took Luanda in 1641. The Portuguese reclaimed the territory in 1648 and re-baptized the city São Paulo da Assunção, abandoning the name Luanda for its unfortunate similarity with the word Holanda. Commemorative ceremonies culminated in a grand parade in the square opposite the Governor’s Palace.