El Castillo de San Felipe

Fort in San Felipe

The fortress and castle of San Felipe de Lara, El Castillo de San Felipe, about 3km west of Río Dulce town, was built in 1652 to keep pirates from looting the villages and commercial caravans of Izabal. Though the fortress somewhat deterred the buccaneers, a pirate force captured and burned it in 1686. By the end of the next century, pirates had disappeared from the Caribbean, and the fort's sturdy walls served as a prison.

Eventually, the fortress was abandoned and became a ruin – the present fort was reconstructed in 1956.

Today the castle is protected as a park and is one of the Lago de Izabal's principal tourist attractions. In addition to the fort itself, there are grassy grounds, barbecue and picnic areas, and the opportunity to swim in the lake. The place rocks during the Feria de San Felipe (April 30 to May 4).