The fortress of Real Felipe
The Real Felipe is one of the most important constructions in the history of Peru. It has more than two centuries of existence, from colonial times to today. It was a fortress whose purpose was to defend the port of Callao from pirates and corsairs. Over the years its walls have withstood several earthquakes. They have also witnessed the most important historical events of the Republic of Peru. Today it is one of the most emblematic tourist attractions of Lima and the constitutional province of Callao.
All about the Real Felipe fortress
The fortress of Real Felipe
The Real Felipe fortress is an immense military construction dating from colonial times (1774) whose purpose was to protect the port of Callao from pirate and port attacks.
Its name refers to King Felipe V, the first monarch of Spain in the House of Bourbon. During the colonial period also called ‘El Castillo del Callao’. It is the largest military building in America during the viceroyalty.
It has a great history of wars, assassinations and uprisings that summarize part of the history of Peru. It is currently one of the most important historical attractions of Lima along with Caral and el famous sanctuary of Pachacamac.
The ‘Castle’ of Real Felipe extends over more than 70 thousand square meters. It has a pentagon shape where a bastion stands out in its five corners. Each of these are nominated as: a) The king, b) The queen, c) San Felipe, d) San Carlos and e) San José.
The fortress has two entrances: the main gate and the gate of honor. As was customary at the time at the main entrance there was a drawbridge that crossed a water moat.
One of the most famous constructions is the ‘Torreón del Rey’ and the ‘Torreón de la Reina’. The first has three levels, of which two have iron and bronze cannons. It has weapons inside. In addition to the cannons, the queen’s keep had a semicircular dungeon. Both towers were isolated by bridges over water wells.
At the back of the fortress is the ‘House of the ruler’, a building with the coats of arms of the kings of Spain carved on the front. Today there is a small museum of armaments, from Inca times to the republican period of Peru. As its name indicates, the military ruler of Real Felipe lived in the colony.
On top of the ‘House of the ruler’ is the building of the ‘Knight of the 12 guns’. As its name indicates, there are a set of twelve canyons with 360-degree visibility.
Another of the most outstanding buildings is the ‘House of women’, which pays tribute to the work of women in wars. Next to this structure is the ‘oploteca’ a warehouse where a collection of pistols, revolvers, rifles, carbines, mortars and even machine guns dating from the colonial era and the beginning of the Republic are exhibited.
In addition, in the ‘Armored Vehicle Park’ there is a collection of tanks used during different stages of Peru’s history, from the colony to the War with Chile.
Finally, the modern fortress of Real Felipe offers a replica of the room where the Peruvian hero Francisco Bolognesi made the speech of ‘defense of the homeland’ in the city of Arica. Likewise, the monument to the ‘Unknown Soldier’ in homage to all the soldiers who gave their lives for Peru.
The Real Felipe fortress is located in front of the Square Independencia, in the constitutional province of Callao (14 kilometers from the center of Lima).
Geographically it is located in a strategic location facing the sea and the island of San Lorenzo.
How to get?
The best way to get to the Real Felipe fortress is by car from the center of the city of Lima. To do this, you must follow the last block of Avenida Benavides or Miguel Grau. The trip by taxi or collective taxi can be taken in the ‘Square 2 de mayo’, located in the Historic Center of Lima. There are also public transport buses there.
History of the fortress
In the first decades of the viceroyalty of Peru, the beaches of Callao served as a port where the riches of the ‘New World’ were shipped to Spain. To protect themselves from the robberies and assaults by corsairs and pirates, Viceroy Toledo ordered the construction of a wall in 1640. However, as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 1746, the place was destroyed and unprotected. Thus, Viceroy José Antonio Manso de Velasco ordered the construction of a fortress to protect the city.
The work was commissioned by the French architect Luis Godin together with the Spanish José Amich and Juan Francisco Rossa. The investment was 3 million pesos. Stones were brought from the island of San Lorenzo. The works began in 1747 and ended in 1774 under the viceroyalty of Manual de Amat and Junient. However, in the following years (until 1811) the final works continued until adopting a form similar to the current one.
During the emancipation of Peru against the viceroyalty, the Real Felipe fortress played a fundamental role as a defense fort for the Spanish. The protection of the port of Callao forced the liberator San Martín to disembark in Pisco. Thus, after the declaration of the independence of Peru in 1821, Real Felipe was besieged and finally used in favor of the independentistas. Thus the fortress was renamed ‘Castillo de la Independencia’.
From the republican period of Peru, the Real Felipe fulfilled different functions: prison, refuge for generals, customs center and more. It should be noted that on May 2, 1866, the castle fulfilled its true role as a fortress when faced with a Spanish fleet that sought to regain power over its former dominions.
The last confrontation that Real Felipe starred in was during the attempted disembarkation of Chilean ships in the port of Callao. The Peruvian defense prevented the landing but the fortress suffered severe damage to several towers.
In 1925, President Augusto Leguía ordered the restoration of the military fort. Since then it has been renamed ‘Fortaleza del Real Felipe’, which continues to this day.
In 1952 it was declared ‘Museum of the Peruvian Army’. The remodeling work as a museum was followed by various obstacles caused by the military who sought to carry out ‘coups d’état’ (1992).
He is currently in command of the Armed Forces of Peru.
The price for foreign adults is 15 Peruvian soles (5 US dollars, approximately).
The price for Peruvian adults is 10 soles (3 US dollars, approximately).
From Monday to Saturday from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon.
Photos of Real Felipe
The Real Felipe fortress has the popular reputation of ‘a place where ghosts live’. It is that throughout its history there have been many stories of murders, deaths and more events of this type.
In addition to the traditional tours, there are night tours that go through the most sinister sites of the fortress. This guided tour runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Although it is possible to make the visit on your own, a good option is to get to know the Real Felipe through a tour organized by a tourism agency. The cost of this service is approximately $ 35 per person. In addition to the fortress, visit other tourist attractions in Callao.
The Real Felipe fortress is a very safe place. However, if you are visiting on your own, try not to carry high-value items such as expensive watches or high-end cell phones. Some streets in the city of Lima and Callao have a high incidence of theft. Therefore, it is best to prevent and thus make a much safer visit.
At the entrance door you can get tour guide service for an additional cost. During the tour, do not damage the objects on display or the architecture of the place. These have a high historical value.
After visiting the Real Felipe fortress, you can visit some of the other nearby tourist attractions. A good option is to visit the Square de Armas de Lima, a place full of history. The square is only 18 kilometers from the fortress.