The fortification process of Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias is a key city of the Spain military Empire and has always been the target of rivals such as France and England. By consequence, the fortification of the place was necessary to assure victory in case of an attack.

The fortification process of the city and surroundings began in the XVI century and has continued until the end of the XVIII century. The Boqueron Fort was the first fortress of Cartagena de Indias and was born with the need to protect the entrance of the Animas bay. This fort is in our days the San Sebastian del Pastelillo on Manga Island.

There were two batteries close from the ramparts of Santa Catalina and San Lucas, which today is named El Cabrero, which used to protect ground access from the north side. Two other batteries were in Punta Icacos, which today is the emplacement of the Caribe hotel, which protected entrance from the south. Finally, two other batteries where is now found the Santo Domingo rampart, to protect from entrance from the sea and the Bocagrande peninsula.

These defences weren’t enough to protect the city that was attacked by Martin Cote and Francis Drake. However, this obliged the Spanish Crown to improve the city’s defence by using the Italian engineer Bautista Antonelli, which brought the best fortification of America.

In the XVII century, the bay entrance of Tierrabomba was protected by the San Luis castle of Bocachica on the south side and San Matias, which replaced Punta Icacos (today hotel Caribe). The Santangelo platform, situated north of Tierrabomba has disappeared because of its inefficiency.

The fort of Santa Cruz de Castillogrande was situated where is now the Naval club and was right beside the Fort of Manzanillo, which still has the same name.

The Reducto rampart was situated at the point of the Getsemani island right beside the Fort of Boqueron (pastelillo), where we could communicate with the city.

On the hill of San Lazaro, the fort had the same name and a couple years later, became the San Felipe Castle with a bigger fortification.

It was during the XVIII century, that the military construction increased its importance to protect Cartagena de Indias. So, military engineer Juan de Herrera y Sotomayor started the reparation of the destroyed buildings through the Vernon invasion.

- Re-establish the castles San Luis de Bocachica and the San Felipe de Barajas.
- Restore the batteries of Chamba, Santiago and San Felipe.
- Restore two batteries on Baru Island : Varadero and Punta Abanico.
- Rebuild the forts Manzanillo and Castillogrande.

Another engineer, Juan Bautista Mac Evan, put the accent on the project of the Fort San Fernando de Bocachica (by Lorenzo de Solis and Antonio de Arevalo), which replaced San Luis, who was useless.

Also so conceive the Fort San Sebastian del Pastelillo. In the second half of the XVIII century, Antonio de Arevalo took in charge the auction sale of the fortification of the place make him untouchable in his integrality.

- Reinforce the Castle San Felipe on the side to make it stronger.
- Build a dam from the Santa Catalina rampart to the Santo Domingo rampart and therefore protect the wall from waves.
- Finish the Castle San Fernando de Bocachica and the batteries San Rafael Angel, Regis San Francisco and Santiago.
- Build the Santa Catalina dam (less known today as La Tenaza), which was used to push back ground incursions by Marbella.
- Build La Tenaza, situated in front of the ramparts Santa Catalina and San lucas, as well as the batteries Crespo and Hornabeque de Palo Alto, which today doesn’t exist anymore.
- Realize the Bocagrande dam, which is an impressive work under the sea to prevent boat passages by Bocagrnade, between Punta Icacos (Caribe hotel) and Tierrabomba.
- The last creation of Arevelo was the construction of Las Bovedas situated between the ramparts of Santa Catalina and Santa Clara in order to finish the works and systematic closure of the fortified city. It was also the last military building built by Spain in Cartagena de Indias.




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