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CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS

Facts about Castillo de San Felipe, Cartagena

In fact, Castillo de San Felipe in Cartagena is part of the Cartagena World heritage site, and is the most extensive colonial fortification of all of the Americas. The Castillo de San Felipe fortress was to protect Cartagena from invasion by English, Dutch and French navies - referred to by the Spanish and Latin Americans as "pirates". The fortress is just across a canal from the city and can be reached on foot in less than 10 minutes; visiting hours from 8am - 6pm. Cartagena was the most important harbor (and the most heavily fortified city in the New World). It was the nexus for the Spanish flotillas that transported gold and silver via Havana to Spain.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: There is no interpretation or information inside the fortress.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The basis of the fortress.

There is no interpretation or information inside the fortress  and the only written sign is even wrong, as construction started in 1536.

The basis of the fortress.

 

Built with coral rock, the fortress lays on top of the San Lázaro Hill that dominates the city. Construction of the uppermost tier layer on the design of the Dutch engineer Richard Carr began in 1536 - originally known as the Castillo de San Lázaro and later renamed in honor of Philip IV of Spain; it was expanded in 1657.  The upper layer - peaking at 41 m above sea level - was built in a triangular shape on top of the hill, with eight batteries and a garrison of 200 soldiers and 4 gunners. Another expansion was made in 1763 by Antonio de Arévalo.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: A bird's eye overview of the fortress.

A bird's eye overview of the fortress.

 

The outermost wings are somewhat vulnerable to being scaled by infantry but can easily be cut off from the upper levels of the fort. Some merlons on the higher levels point out across the exposed platforms of the lower batteries. In the event that an outer wing was lost to the enemy this would've allowed the defenders to hold the advance on the lower terrace with grapeshot directed from the upper terraces. The walls of the fortress are wide at the base and narrow toward the parapet

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The walls are wide at the base and narrow at the parapets.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The upper levels of the fortress are high and almost impossible to scale.

The walls are wide at the base and narrow at the parapets.

The upper levels of the fortress are high and almost impossible to scale.

 

The batteries and parapets protect one another, making it almost impossible to take a battery without taking the whole defence system, while a maze of tunnels allows the defenders to rapidly move from one side to the other.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: Canon defending a lower level of the fortress and surroundings.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: Visitors admiring the impressive defense works.

Canon defending a lower level of the fortress and surroundings.

Visitors admiring the impressive defense works.

 

An elaborate system of tunnels connects the different parts of the fortress, allowing the defenders to move quickly from one part of the fortress to another, without being exposed to enemy fire.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: tunnels connect the different sections of the fortressCASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: An elaborate system of tunnels. CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: tunnels connecting the different sections of the fortressCASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: An elaborate system of tunnels connects the different sections of the fortress and is fun to explore.

An elaborate system of tunnels connects the different sections of the fortress and is fun to explore.

 

Key features include the triangular Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, surrounded by the batteries de Santa Barbara, de San Carlos y Los Apostles, Del Hornabeque, de la Cruz, de la Redencion, and de San Lazaro.

 

The combined 68 guns faced away from the city. Joining the Media Luna causeway was a caponniere. The San Lazaro battery's platform included water cisterns, while channels collected rainwater. The main underground gallery runs along the perimeter of the complex at sea level. Chambers within it could be exploded preventing the advance of overhead attackers.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The entrance to the San felipe de de Barajas Castle.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: Combined 68 cannons defended the fortress.

The entrance to the San Felipe de de Barajas Castle.

Combined 68 cannons defended the fortress.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The seaside wing of the castle.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: Wide defense allies on top.

The seaside wing of the castle.

Wide defense allies on top.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The top turret is a popular picture setting.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: A view of one of the many crouch through tunnels.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: The triangular San Felipe Castle at the top.CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS: Visitors enjoying the spectacular view from the top and an overview of the magnificent defense works.

The triangular San Felipe Castle at the top.

Visitors enjoying the spectacular view from the top and an overview of the magnificent defense works.

 

In 1697, during the War of the Grand Alliance, the fortress fell to the French Baron de Pointis. The British Admiral Edward Vernon attacked the fortress in the 1741 Battle of Cartagena de Indias was repelled by the Spanish admiral Blas de Lezo. During the Spanish American wars of independence a Spanish expeditionary force under Pablo Morillo had arrived in New Granada and retook Cartagena in 1816 retaking control of New Ganada.

 

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE, CARTAGENA FACTS

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