Star forts were once the cutting edge of military technology. As with the fort below, Goryokaku in southern Hokkaidō, Japan, its five-point star shape served to eliminate blind spots for cannon fire that were an aspect of earlier circular tower design.
Note the blooms of the cherry orchards:
Undoubtedly, these forts were also puffed-chested displays of state power and wealth. As history has shown us, over and over, there was never a wall constructed that could not be breached, the boasting may've been more symbolic than actual. Still, it was a potent symbol.
The Dutch fort of Bourtange (above) was initially built during the 80 Years War (c. 1568 - 1648) by William I of Orange. The fort's purpose was to control the only road between the Groningen province and Germany which was an important trade artery. At the time it was controlled by the Spaniards.
Some examples of other European counterparts:
Saint Martin de Ré, France:
The burdens of Empire, Fort George at Inverness: This bastion was built to keep down internal revolts and rebellious Scots in their place. Now, it's one of England's most beautiful country strolls.
Many years later, with their intended military purposes behind them, the properties would be turned into gardens and public museums. These fortresses now inhabit sparsely populated areas. As is often the case, areas once considered of extreme value economically and strategically were abandoned as development happened elsewhere. Travelers to the American south will also often find this to be true.
Below, two views of the fort at Naarden, the Netherlands:
Another star fort built during William of Orange's reign, Wierickerschans: As often happened in the Dutch marshland, this fort was constructed to withstand flooding.
Now, the fortified walls and geometric moats serve only to protect finely manicured gardens.
You'd have to admit there is a kind of a poetic justice at work here, this transforming of hegemonic displays of military might into tranquil scenic gardens. The Flower Children would've been proud.
Addenda: Just discovered this, a contemporary homage to star forts in the form of this public garden located in Heerhugowaard-South, The Netherlands. Design was by HOSPER and DRFTWD Office Associates.