Fort Cornwallis - named after the Governor-General in Bengal, Charles Cornwallis – is one of the most interesting historical landmarks in George Town, located close to the Esplanade, next to the Victoria Memorial Clock.
The fort's walls, roughly 10 feet high, are laid out in star-like formation. A stroll along the perimeters takes roughly 10 minutes.
Inside the fort, one can still see some of the original structures built over a century
ago, including a chapel, prison cells, which were once used as barracks, a munitions storage area, a harbour light once used to signal incoming ships, the original flagstaff and several old bronze canons, one of which is a Dutch canon called the Seri Rambai, dated 1603. An interesting note about the Seri Rambai - some locals believe that this particular canon can have a positive effect on a woman's fertility.
One of the earliest structures in Pulau Pinang, Fort Cornwallis was erected in 1786, not long after he acquired Pulau Pinang for the East India Company, from the Sultan of Kedah. The site where the fort was built is actually the first place where Light disembarked from his ship in 1768. Fort Cornwallis was originally built of nibong palms, but was replaced in 1804 with a sturdier stone and brick structure.
Although built for defence by design, throughout its existence, Fort Cornwallis served more as an administrative centre for the British, having survived without much threat of enemy attacks. Fort Cornwallis was once surrounded with a moat roughly 9m wide and 2m deep. Along the perimeters of the fort's wall, several canon bays were strategically placed overlooking the harbour in the north and the port activities along the eastern waterfront. In the 1920's due to a malaria outbreak in the area, the moat surrounding Fort Cornwallis was filled in.
The chapel located on the south-west corner of the fort is the first chapel ever built on Penang island and was used by the British and Europeans living there. The first-ever recorded service, however was in 1799 when John Timmers wedded Martina Rozells, the widow of Francis Light.
There is a fort directory located at you left side which will guide you on what are the attractions that can be found here. It will be best if you start your tour on the left side of the fort by visiting the chapel, followed by the historical gallery to know
more about the history of the fort.
Opening hours for Fort Cornwallis is from 8.30am to 6.30pm daily and the admission fees are RM3.00 for adults and RM2.00 for children below 12 years old.
Fort Cornwallis is located along Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah Road, just a walking distance from the Esplanade and a few minutes' drive from Penang Ferry Terminal.