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San Felipe Fortress Colonial military structure now is a museum

PUERTO PLATA. – Located on the Malecon, with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean, the Museum of Colonial Fortress San Felipe is one of the landmarks of this historic city is also called “The Bride of the Atlantic” which is visited every year by thousands local and foreign tourists.

This building was erected in 1577 on top of a hill, still a landmark historic colonial architecture, built in stone and clay that have survived the vicissitudes of time, conserving its original structure, while the exterior was remodeled, due to damage sustained during the constant bombardment of the city that was submitted in Spanish colonial times. This structure was fitted out as a museum in 1974 and declared a cultural heritage by then the Secretary of State Culture, his name comes to honor the Spanish monarch Philip V in whose reign the construction was completed. The San Felipe fortress was built to protect the city of Puerto Plata from attacks of pirates and privateers, by order of King Philip II of Spain. On several occasions he has served in prison, not just only pirates, but few historic characters, as the founder of the Dominicans, Juan Pablo Duarte, who was detained there for two days in August 1844, before he moved to the Ozama Fortress in Santo Domingo, on the orders of then President General Pedro Santana. This strong second major military construction built by the Spanish colony, and would also be used as a prison compound, located on the north coast of Hispaniola, in Puerto Plata, facing the Atlantic Ocean, which was built as a fort basic defense of the north coast to the adventures of marauding pirates. According to the account of Heidy Silverio, one of the guides offering their services in the museum, from the time of Charles V, in 1541, was intended to erect a defensive fortress in this part of the island to protect permanent actions of pirates and looters trying to loot the Spanish colony in this part of the world.

Work began in the years 1562-1565, with the consent of Francisco Ceballos, important person of Puerto Plata, who died in 1572, when the fort was initiated and during that period was fundamentally smuggled of northern economies of the island. Ceballos was replaced by the second governor Pedro Rengifo and Angulo, who concluded the work in the year 1577.  The stories of colonial chroniclers state that to be built on a strategic point on the island, the Fort San Felipe was the scene of major battles for survival of the colony.

To get inside, you have to cross a wooden bridge that was originally erected, in order to lift it when enemies tried to enter the fort and fall into holes handmade coral, in which wooden sharp sticks were placed representing certain death of the invaders who fell there. ”The doors to the rooms, rather small cells are about three or four feet high, because the Spanish kept the weapons of the other side and those who wanted to steal them should bow down and when they showed the head and neck,were waiting on the other side with machetes and were beheaded, “the guide Silverio Heidy referring to doors. In the lobby of the fort, there are glass cases showcasing a collection of military artifacts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as guns, bullets, revolvers, rifles, bayonets, swords, axes and other weapons of the period as well as farm tools and different types of coins that were found during the reconstruction of the fort in 1972.

It also has another exhibition with Dominican crafts that are on display, there are necklaces and gourds pieces made with coconut, Larimar and stones, rag dolls and other utensils of the time to recreate the story. In another room you can see paintings representing all American firsts that happened in Dominican Republic as the first admiral, the first mass and the first catechist evangelist, among others. In the second level, is the viewpoint to the sea where the enemy was observed when approaching and several strategically located cannons to attack intruders who try to reach. Silverio Heidy, the guide explained that each day at 10:00 am and 4:45 pm, a replica of a cannon produces sounds to remember the history of the fort.
From there you can see a panorama of the waterfront, a view of Loma Isabel de Torres and a full view of the harbor, which was defended from the pirates invasions.

The museum is open to the public daily, except Mondays, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The fee to enter is one hundred pesos for adults and 20 pesos for children from seven to twelve years and students will present their cards or uniformed. On Wednesdays, tickets are free, but only for Dominicans.

To enable visitors to learn more about the history that keeps the museum within its walls and setting, three guides are responsible for providing historical information of the fortress. But beyond that, have the audio guide service, where they have the information of the history of the fort recorded in Spanish, English, French, German and Russian, which is included in the entrance fee. The Fort survived the devastation. In 1605, during the Devastations of Osorio, the city was utterly wasted, but the strength was not touched, despite orders to destroy it. During the subsequent occupations in the eighteenth century, the fort had to be restored and the name of San Felipe was given in honor of Philip V, then King of Spain. On both sides there were built towers that give it a medieval feel. The hub or central tower 80 feet in diameter was used as a prison in the War of Restoration against Spain, from 1863 “.

Source: Puerto Plata Digital

Category: DR Living |

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Last updated December 4, 2016 at 1:52 AM
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