When Captain Francis Light landed on this spot in 1786 and took the island from the Sultan he built a wooden fort, Fort Cornwallis, to defend it against the French, Kedah and pirates during the Napoleonic Wars.
Rebuilt in 1808 using Indian convict labour it is the largest and most intact fort in Malaysia. Once protected by a great moat this was filled in after a malaria outbreak in the 1920s.
The famous great cannons guarding Fort Cornwallis date back as far as the 17th century.
On the edge of water on Jalan T. S. S. Barakbah (off Lebuh Light), Fort Cornwallis can easily be reached on foot from central Georgetown.
Grass Lawns and park areas nearby along the esplanade offer a popular spot to picnic and cool off with ice cream in the shade.