The Fortress of San Juan de Ulsa in Veracruz, a place full of history and mystery

Veracruz is a state that is full of history for being the arrival point of the conquerors, evidenced by the impressive medieval construction, the San Juan de Ulua Fort, which offers visitors an intriguing tour of the time when the Spaniards attacked pirates. had defended himself.

Located on the small island of San Juan de Ulua, opposite the city and the port of Veracruz, it was built around 1535, and as is known, the conquistadors used black slaves to build it.

According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), it has advanced external defensive functions formed by Ravelin de San Jose, 12 bomb-proof vaults with 16 cannons, two cisterns, a flooded ditch and a drawbridge connecting it. In the rest of the fort—and two lunettes, Santa Catarina and Nuestra Seora del Pilar.

It also included seven vaults for the storage of food and gunpowder, as well as a staircase and a ramp leading to the embankment where the artillery was kept.

During the colony, goods from Europe landed at San Juan de Ulua, as this place and Veracruz was the only port authorized by the Spanish Crown for trade with the old continent.

On the tour, visitors may be surprised by the arches that can be seen inside the building, which is characterized by low light and extreme humidity, factors that served to undermine the health of prisoners when the prison became a prison in the 19th century. , among those who were criminals suspected of witchcraft or heresy, political opponents, journalists and intellectuals who in turn criticized the government.

At the time when the site was a prison, important Mexican politicians such as Benito Juárez, Frey Cervando Teresa de Maire, Francisco Xavier Clavijero and Carlos María Bustamante were imprisoned; As well as some strikers from Canea and Rio Blanco.

The famous bandit Jess Arriaga, Chucho el Roto, was also in prison, who, it is said, managed to bypass the security of the site and was able to escape to meet Matilda Friesack.

The fort saw the French intervention of 1838 and the American ones of 1847 and 1914.

In walking through the fort, tourists can also witness the variety of rocks that are under construction, which serve to build it. The coral known as stone macara or makara was extracted from the ocean floor and after drying it in the sun, sawn into blocks to erect foundations and walls.

Climbing the buildings that make up the fort also becomes a unique experience, you can admire the impressive views of the sea and the harbour. In the distance you can see merchant ships entering and leaving the docks of the port of Veracruz.

  • Fact: The fort was named the Presidential Residence of Venustiano Carranza in 1914. It was declared a historical monument in 1962.

Presently this historical place also preserves some cannons which were used by the Spaniards for their defense. Apart from a suspension bridge that leads to an impressive building that looks like a palace.

To get to the fort, it is recommended to take one of the tours arriving by car or leaving the port, where when you return you can taste a delicious milkman in the traditional parish of Veracruz, along with a delicious bomba. (shell with beans)

Fort of San Juan de Ulsa

  • Where: San Juan de Ulsa, Veracruz
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
  • Cost: 65 pesos

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