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Fort San Pedro is the Philippines's oldest and smallest fort.
Construction on the Fort was commenced in 1565 by the Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (he turned the first sod himself). Legazpi named the fort after the San Pedro, which was his flagship and the ship in which he had crossed the Pacific to the Philippines.
Fort San Pedro provided protection against from possible sea and land attacks by marauding Moro pirates from the south, and later served as a prison for Cebuano rebels. In the earliest days of the Spanish colony, the Fort was the center of Spanish military and clerical power in the Philippines.
At first Fort San Pedro was just a wooden pallisade; later (in 1738) it was replaced by a formidable stone structure with walls 6 meters high and 2.5 meters thick and 10 meter high towers.
The Fort is built in a triangular shape (with a bastion at each corner of the triangle). Two of the three sides face of the triangle face the sea and the third side faces inland.
The three bastions are named as follows: La Concepcion, Ignacio de Loyola, and San Miguel.
Some of the other major parts of Fort San Pedro are:
- the Cuerpo de Guardia (the guard house)
- the Viviendo del Teniente (the lieutenant's living quarters)
- the sentry walk.
On 24 December 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, a convoy of Spanish ships sailed from Fort San Pedro en route for Zamboanga and then on to Spain. Three centuries of the Philippines as a Spanish colony had come to an end and the Fort was occupied by Cebu's freedom fighters.
In the early years of the 20th century the Fort was used as an American base and barracks and then in the years before the Second World War as a schoolhouse.
With the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1942-43, the Japanese occupied the Fort. and used it as a prison camp. During and after liberation by the Americans at the end of World War II the Fort was used a emergency hospital for injured liberation soldiers.
During the last days of the war the Fort was very badly damaged, but in 1968 the ruins were underwent restoration (with the main facade, main building, sentry walk, and roof observatory being brought back to near original state). A number of Spanish cannons were put back in place.
In one period after the war the Fort was used as a zoo.
Today the interior of Fort San Pedro has a charming little park with many tropical flowers, where people come to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Cebu.
There is also a small museum inside the Fort. This museum is open every day except Sunday and features relics of the Spanish galleons and their cargoes.
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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)