Fort San Pedro • Cebu City

spedro_gatejpg.jpgThe 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. After staking out the fort and a settlement outside its perimeter, the Spanish soldiers immediately built the fortification by felling trees and setting up a perimeter. Around ca. 1600, construction in stone began and may have continued until 1635. An engraving of unknown provenance (published in 1900 in Archipelago Filipino) 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 Colegio was located just north of the fort and was already a functioning school when Campioni was assigned to 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 and serves as convenient benches before the gate.  These may have been a replacement for the palisade-type fausse braye 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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