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At the time, it was the main bastion that Callao had to avoid the onslaught of foreign evildoers. Corsairs, looters and pirates tried to enter Peru through the country’s main port, but their plans were cut short when they came up against the imposing Fortaleza Real Felipe, the largest construction built by the Spanish in Latin America.

This military construction was the Peruvian shield against the attacks coming from enemy fleets that appeared from the Pacific Ocean. Today, the swords and rifles only serve as decoration, since it was transformed into a museum and the most fascinating attraction of the Constitutional Province of Callao. 

Its environments take us back to different times, since it is an army museum we find all its evolution from pre-Hispanic times to the present day. 

When visiting the Real Felipe we find an imposing fortress full of secrets, passages, labyrinths, dungeons and stories of pirates, at the same time that the visitor experiences various sensations as he walks through its environments. From its highest tower there is a formidable view of the port of Callao and the city of Lima.

While Traveling and discovering new historical places, you may need to use one of our mobile phone plans for tourists to have a tourist SIM card. In order to understand and find new adventures, here in PeruSIM

Now, learn a little of the history and how to take advantage of your visit to this fabulous and enigmatic architectural and historical piece:

History of the fortress

real felipe history
Fuente de la imagen:

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 against 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 tidal wave 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 to the French architect Luis Godin together with the Spaniards 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 finished in 1774 under the viceroyalty of Manual de Amat y Junient. However, in the following years (until 1811) the final works continued until it adopted a form similar to the present one.

During the emancipation of Peru against the viceroyalty, the Real Felipe fortress played a fundamental role as a defense fort against the Spaniards. The protection of the port of Callao forced the liberator San Martin to disembark in Pisco. 

Thus, after the declaration of the independence of Peru in 1821, the Real Felipe was besieged and finally used in favor of the independence fighters. Thus the fortress was renamed ‘Castillo de la Independencia’ (Independence Castle).

From the republican stage of Peru, the Real Felipe fulfilled different functions: prison, refuge for generals, customs center and more. It is worth mentioning that on May 2, 1866, the castle fulfilled its true function as a fortress when facing a Spanish fleet that sought to regain power over its former domains.

The last confrontation that the Real Felipe starred in was during the attempt of 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 fortress. Since then it was renamed ‘Fortaleza del Real Felipe’, which continues to this day.

In 1952 it was declared a ‘Museum of the Peruvian Army’. The works of remodeling as a museum were followed by diverse obstacles caused by the military that sought to give ‘coups d’état’ (1992).

It is currently under the command of the Peruvian Armed Forces.

Inside the Fortress 

The ‘Castle’ of Real Felipe extends for more than 70 thousand square meters. It has a pentagon shape with a bastion at its five corners. Each of these are named: 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, there was a drawbridge at the main entrance that crossed a water moat.

One of the most famous constructions is the ‘King’s keep’ and the ‘Queen’s keep’. The first has three levels, two of which have iron and bronze cannons. It has armament in the interior. The queen’s tower, in addition to the cannons, had a semicircular dungeon. Both towers were isolated by bridges over water wells.

At the rear 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 the Inca period to the republican stage of Peru. As its name indicates, in the colony there resided the military ruler of Real Felipe.

On the top of the ‘Casa del gobernante’ is the building of the ‘Caballero de los 12 cañones’ (Knight of the 12 cannons). As its name indicates, there is a set of twelve cannons with 360-degree visibility.

Another of the most outstanding buildings is the ‘House of the woman’, which pays homage to the work of women in the 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 colonial times and the beginning of the Republic are exhibited.

In addition, the “Park of Armored Vehicles” displays a collection of tanks used during different stages of Peru’s history, from colonial times 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. Also, the monument to the ‘Unknown Soldier’ in homage to all the soldiers who gave their lives for Peru.

How much is the entrance fee to Real Felipe?  

  • National adult and foreigner: S/ 12.00
  • Children: S/ 5.00

Why is it called Real Felipe?

This fortress was built after the earthquake and tsunami of October 28, 1746, and was named Real Felipe in honor of King Felipe V, the first Spanish monarch of the House of Bourbon, who died in 1746.

Where is the Real Felipe located?

It is located in Plaza Independencia (at the beginning of Sáenz Peña Avenue) Callao.

What role did the Real Felipe Fortress play during Peru’s independence?

The Real Felipe Fortress is one of the greatest historical monuments of Peru. Built during the viceregal period, it was the last refuge of the Spaniards in our territory. It played a relevant role in the colony by protecting the coastal area of Callao from the attacks of pirates and corsairs.

More information about the fortress

The Real Felipe fortress has the popular fame of ‘place where ghosts live’. Throughout its history there have been many stories of murders, deaths and other events of this type.

In addition to the traditional tours, there are night tours that visit the most sinister places of the fortress. This guided tour takes place from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

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 tourist agency. The cost of this service is approximately US$35 per person. In addition to the fortress, you can visit other tourist attractions in Callao.

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