Fuerte de San Felipe

Puerto Plata

Located right on the bay, at the western end of the Malecón, the fort is the only remnant of Puerto Plata’s early colonial days. Built in the mid-16th century to prevent pirates from seizing one of the only protected bays on the entire north coast, San Felipe never saw any action. For much of its life its massive walls and interior moat were used as a prison.

Included with admission is an audio tour (available in English, French, German, Russian and Spanish); the music is quite rollicking, but it’s disappointingly thin in terms of historical breadth and depth. There are short explanations of the objects displayed in the small museum – a few rusty handcuffs, a handful of bayonets and a stack of cannonballs. The views of the bay are impressive, though, and a large grassy area in front of the fort makes for a restful stop.

Also at the fort is Puerto Plata’s lighthouse, which first lit up on September 9, 1879, and was restored in 2000. The white-and-yellow tower – 24.4m tall, 6.2m in diameter – is a melding of neoclassical style with industrial construction.

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