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The San Felipe de Barajas Castle is located on the San Lazaro hill in Cartagena de Indias. Photo: Fortifications Cartagena.
The San Felipe de Barajas Castle is located on the San Lazaro hill in Cartagena de Indias. Photo: Fortifications Cartagena.

San Felipe de Barajas Castle, an architectural work defending Cartagena

The San Felipe Castle is the largest military work built by the Spanish in the Americas.

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The San Felipe de Barajas Castle is usually a must-see on the touristic agenda of those who travel to Cartagena for the first time. The fortress built during Spanish colonization is the largest military complex of all those built by the Spanish on the American continent.

The fortification is located on a hill in the city called San Lazaro, and was built in 1657 during the Spanish colonial period. Throughout the years, it suffered constant attacks by the English and French, and French Commander Baron de Pointis took possession of the construction in the middle of 1697.

The castle took more than a century to be built, beginning in 1536 and lasting until 1657. The objective of the work was to be able to observe the continuous invasions and attacks the city suffered at the hands of English and French armies and pirates, and to help defend itself.

One of the most famous attacks was one suffered at the hands of the English in 1741. That year, Edward Vernon attacked Cartagena with an army of more than 27,000 soldiers, 186 warships and 2,000 cannons.

Vernon did not achieve his objective, as the Spaniard Blas de Lezo, with only 3,600 men and six ships, managed to defeat the English armada in one of the most spectacular heroic deeds of military history in Cartagena.

In 1984, UNESCO included the Historic Center of the city of Cartagena, its fortifications and the San Felipe de Barajas Castle on the list of World Heritage Sites, as it is considered one of the seven wonders of Colombia. 

The fortification is also part of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of Colombia, according to information obtained through the Ministry of Culture of the country.

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