Military Wiki
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Cartagena, Colombia
62 - Carthagène - Décembre 2008.jpg
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Type Bastion, Fortress
Coordinates Latitude: 10.42222
Longitude: -75.53806
Built 1536–1767
Built by Antonio de Arévalo
In use 1536–present
well preserved
Open to
the public
Controlled by Colombia
Commanders José de Herrera y Sotomayor (1739–41)
Battles/wars Raid on Cartagena (1697)
Battle of Cartagena de Indias (1741)

The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas is a fortress in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. The castle is located on the Hill of San Lázaro in a strategic location, dominating approaches to the city by land or sea. It was built by the Spanish during the colonial era. Construction began in the year 1536, and it was originally known as the Castillo de San Lázaro, It was expanded in 1657.


The fortress was begun in 1536. It was significantly expanded in 1657. It was built in a triangular shape on top of the hill, with eight guns and a garrison of 20 soldiers and 4 gunners. Its name was given in honour of Philip IV of Spain.[1] Another expansion was made to the fortress in 1763 by Antonio de Arévalo.[2]

In the 1697 raid on Cartagena, during the War of the Grand Alliance, the castle fell to the French privateer Baron de Pointis. The castle was repaired by José de Herrera y Sotomayor in 1739. British Admiral Edward Vernon attacked the fortress in the 1741 Battle of Cartagena de Indias, an important conflict of the War of Jenkins' Ear. Vernon's forces were repelled by the Spanish admiral Blas de Lezo. By mid-1815 a large Spanish expeditionary force under Pablo Morillo had arrived in New Granada. Cartagena fell in December, and by May 1816 the royalists had control of all of New Granada.

The castle

File:Vista del castillo.jpg

Aerial view of the castle

Map of the underground tunnels

The fortification consists of a series of walls, wide at the base and narrow toward the parapet, forming a formidable pattern of bunkers. The batteries and parapets protect one another, so making it practically impossible to take a battery without taking the whole defence system. The stone blocks used to build the castle were said to be splattered with the blood of slaves. Cartagena was a port of the black slave trade. The guns of the castle commanded the whole bay, so that any suspicious vessel attempting to dock could be attacked.

The castle is striking for its grand entrance and its complex maze of tunnels. It is the most formidable defensive complex of Spanish military architecture.

Status and conservation

The castle is well preserved. When it ceased to be used for military purposes, tropical vegetation covered the battlements and walls, and soil accumulated in the tunnels and trenches.

In 1984, UNESCO listed the castle, with the historic centre of the city of Cartagena, as a World Heritage Site. Since 1990, the castle has served as a location for social and cultural events offered by the Colombian government in honour of foreign delegations at presidential summits, ministerial meetings, the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (1995)[3] and the Summit of the Rio Group (2000),[4] among others.

The castle is open to visitors.


Panoramic of the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.

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