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Friday, December 13, 2013

December 8, 2013-Fort San Filipe

On a hill called San Lazaro, overlooking the city of Cartagena, the Spanish built a fort.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Fort San Filipe

That was in 1536. It was called the Castillo de San Lázaro back then.

It was designed to protect the city of Cartagena and the gold and silver of the New World which the Spanish had collected and hidden in Cartagena. Canons were mounted atop its walls and access was either up the exposed sides or though hidden tunnels which laced the rock under Castillo de San Lázaro.

Few surmounted it.

The Castillo de San Lázaro still stands.

Now it is called Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, or more commonly, the Fort of San Filipe. Named after Philip IV of Spain who financed it and once remarked that for all the money he put into it he should be able to see it from Barcelona. But it was successful. Cartagena and it's riches were defended by this fort against all comers for many years.

It's not hard to imagine the dread in the hearts of any opposing soldiers who had to face the ramparts of this fort.

Then there are the tunnels.

Narrow and twisting and uphill. At the top Spanish muskets awaited.

The soldiers and canons are gone but the walls and tunnels of Fort San Filipe remain and it has shimmered in the heat over the city of Cartagena for 450 years. It still tends to intimidate anyone who would breach its heights.

For months we have looked at Fort San Filipe from the taxis and streets of Cartagena. And one morning, when it was still relatively cool, we set out to conquer it.

Even at 7:30 in the morning it is hot in Cartagena. As we climbed up the ramps leading to the fortifications atop the walls we tried to imagine the soldiers and slaves who had to drag the huge stones it was built with up that hill. They say the stones were splashed with blood long before the first battle. I believe it.

And in the quiet morning, before anyone else reached the top, we looked out over the city and the bay.

It is a commanding view. We wandered around and pointed imaginary guns out between the parapets.

Then we ventured into the tunnels going downward from the top, not up from the bottom. Even with electric lighting they are scary. It would be easy to get lost in the maze. Once we stepped off the passageway in the darkness at the bottom of one passage into water. It was only up to our shoe-tops but it could have been over our heads. We'd already been thinking that going further and further into these tunnels wasn't the smartest idea. That was enough for us. We went back up and left the tunnels then and we thought about this fort and these tunnels which have stood here for 450 years and which have scared a lot of people during that time.
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Jacque & Edith

And we thought the Spanish did a good job building this.

Click here for more photos of Fort San Filipe.

Click here to read about this fort.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Cartagena

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit behind in my reading.
Reading this gave me shivers. But also awe at what they built.
And we think today's commuter geeks are smart.
Did you run into any ghosts?

20 December, 2013 09:36  

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