The Fortaleza da Barra was one of the fortresses built in the 17th century by the Portuguese to defend Macau against hostile European nations and local pirates. One hundred years later a chapel was built within its walls and dedicated to Saint James, the patron saint of the Portuguese garrison. Today, much of the fortress and the Chapel have been preserved as part of the Pousada de São Tiago.
The small Chapel, erected in the Barra Fort in 1740, was dedicated to St. James, the saint adapted by the Portuguese army, and the statue above the altar depicted St. James in military uniform. He wears high boots and the soldiers at the fort believed that at night he would leave the Chapel and patrol the ramparts, to inspect his troops. In the morning, legend says, there would be mud on his boots, so a soldier was assigned to polish them each day. On one occasion, it is said a lazy soldier was hit on the head by the saint. To this day, his feast is celebrated at the Chapel on the 25th of July every year. In 1978, the Chapel was restored and the statue of St. James cleaned and painted. As in the past, it became an integral part of the main building, adjoining the reception area and cocktail lounge.
Ao longo dos anos o forte foi gradualmente demolido para construção de estradas e a partir de 1976 deixou de ser utilizado pela Polícia Marítima. O Departamento de Turismo do Governo de Macau recuperou-o e requalificou-o como pousada, a "Pousada de São Tiago", inaugurada em 1982. Os visitantes podem conhecê-la e visitar a capela em seu interior, onde se destacam a imagem da Virgem e a do padroeiro. Segundo uma lenda local, a estátua do santo patrulhava o forte de noite, pelo que de manhã as botas estavam enlameadas, havendo um soldado destacado para as limpar. Um dia o soldado ter-se-ia esquecido de o fazer, tendo sido atingido na cabeça pela espada do santo.