Heritage Conservation Society

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Fort San Pedro

Posted by admin on July 27, 2006

This triangular fort made of coral blocks traces its origins to the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who laid out the plan for a triangular palisade in 1565. Built to protect the emerging Spanish settlement, the fortification symbolized the military presence of Spain, which made the pacification of the islands possible. Bastions project from the three points of the triangle, following standard fortification plans.

The date of construction of the stone fort is uncertain. Although there are claims that a Jesuit Antonio Campioni built a stone fort in 1630, and the gate of fort bears the date 1738 together with the arms of Castille and Leon. It is certain, however, that the fort underwent major renovations in the late 1800s as part of a building program to improve Cebu City. The fort became a garrison during World War II, a zoo, and now a park. It was once the office of the Department of Tourism in Cebu, however, the office has been transferred to a nearby site.

Photos from Ivan Anthony S. Henares
Text from Panublion Heritage Site

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One Response to “Fort San Pedro”

  1. rene b javellana, sj said

    Updated notes on Fort San Pedro

    The fort traces its beginning to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who laid out a plan for a triangular palisade at tongue of land along the shore of Sugbu (Cebu) in May 1565. Around ca. 1600, construction in stone began and may have continued until 1635. An engraving of unknown provenance attributes the stone fort to Gianantonio Campioni, an Italian Jesuit who designed the San Ignacio in Intramuros and who was one time rector of the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Cebu.

    The fort, described in some documents as “cota,” appears in a 1730 map of Cebu. Records of this era indicate that the fort had a puerta empalizada, that is, an auxiliary palisade that protected the gate. The palisade may have been a type of fausse braye.

    In 1738, the fort was renovated. The military engineer of the fort may have been Tomás de Castro who worked on various projects around this time.. The fort is recorded in the 1738 Valdes Tamon report where the triangular design in clearly visible in a general map of Cebu.

    The 1738 report describes the fort as “triangular in shape, with three straight-sided bastions, and measures 1,248 feet in perimeter. Its curtain walls are unequal in length, and the gateway is on the curtain facing northwest towards the town. It is protected by an outer, square stockade, with gateway facing the town, and alongside this curtain is a stockade which acts as an outer rampart” (VT f83).

    During the second half of the 1800, further renovations were done on the fort. This probably involved redoing the gate and the structure above it. A memorial stone with the date 1833 probably refers to the renovations done at this time. Presently, where the fause braye should be is a low wall, now reduced to serve as convenient benches before the gate. These may have been a replacement for the palisade-type fause bray of 1730.

    After 1945, although the structure was left undamaged during the second World War it had gone to seed. For a while it had the fort served as a zoo. Restored, it is today a park and its barracks house the Department of Tourism Office of Cebu and a branch of the National Museum of the Philippines.

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