Fort San Pedro

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Fort San Pedro
Moog ng San Pedro
Fuerza de San Pedro.jpg
Front entrance of Fuerza de San Pedro
Fort San Pedro is located in Philippines
Fort San Pedro
Magnify-clip.png
Location within the Philippines
Alternative names Fuerza de San Pedro
General information
Type Bastioned fort
Architectural style Italian-Spanish school of fortification
Location Plaza Indepedencia
Town or city Cebu
Country Philippines
Coordinates 10°17′32″N 123°54′21″E / 10.29222°N 123.90583°E / 10.29222; 123.90583Coordinates: 10°17′32″N 123°54′21″E / 10.29222°N 123.90583°E / 10.29222; 123.90583
Construction started 1565
Technical details
Structural system Masonry
Floor area 2,025 square metres (21,800 sq ft)
Designations National Historical Landmark


An illustration depicting what the fort may have looked like in 1565.
Fuerza de San Pedro floor plan. A.) Fuerza de San Pedro. B.) Cuerpo de Guardia. C.) Viviendo del Teniente. D.) Almazanes. E.)Pezo. F.)Mana para los Golas. G.) Almazanes del Polvora.
Location of Fuerza de San Pedro during 1643.
Front entrance of Fuerza de San Pedro circa 1900.
A view of the Southwest Bastion La Concepción from the waterfront circa 1900.

Fuerza de San Pedro is a military defence structure, built by Spanish and indigenous Cebuano labourers under the command of Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and the Spanish Government in Cebu. It is located in the area now called Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City, Philippines.

The smallest, oldest triangular bastion fort in the country was built in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders. In turn, it served as a stronghold for Filipino revolutionaries near the end of the 19th century. This served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

The fort is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and the third side fronting the land. The two sides facing the sea were defended with artillery and the front with a strong palisade made of wood. The three bastions were named La Concepción (SW); Ignacio de Loyola (SE), and San Miguel (NE). It has a total inside area of 2,025 square metres (21,800 sq ft). The walls are 20 feet (6.1 m) high, 8 feet (2.4 m) thick and the towers are 30 feet (9.1 m) high from the ground level. The circumference is 1,248 feet (380 m). The sides are of unequal lengths and the one fronting the city is where one may find entry into the Fort. Fourteen cannons were mounted in their emplacements most of which are still there today. Work first started on May 8, 1565 with Miguel Lopéz de Legazpi breaking ground.

Little was known about the activity of the fort from the time it was built until two centuries later in 1739 when the King of Spain, Philip II desired information regarding the island of Cebu, Governor General Tanon, who was the Spanish ruler of the Islands at the time made the following reports:

Fuerza San Pedro, the fort is described as built of stone mortar with a terraplein where guns are mounted. The fort contains the necessary buildings. The largest of these buildings was the "Cuerpo de Guardia" where the personnel that manned the fort lived. Adjacent to it was the "Vivende del Teniente" which was the living quarters of the lieutenant of the Fort. In between the aforementioned buildings is a well. At one corner attached to the walls of the bastion San Miguel (NE) was the "Alamazaros del Rivera" (powder magazine where the fort's supply or arms and gunpowder from Manila were stored).

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Timeline[edit]

Fort San Pedro, Cebu, Philippines

The date of construction of the stone fort is uncertain. Although there are claims that a Jesuit Antonio Campioni built a stone fort in 1630, and the gate of fort bears the date 1738 together with the arms of Castile and Leon. It is certain, however, that the fort underwent major renovations in the late 19th century as part of a building program to improve Cebu City.[2]

The victory of the Americans led by Commodore Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 marked the end of the Spanish era in the Philippine Islands. The fort was then surrendered by the Spaniards to the Cebuano revolutionaries.

Fort San Pedro became a part of the American Warwick Barracks during the American Regime. In later years from 1937 to 1941 the barracks was converted into a school where many Cebuanos received their formal education. During World War II from 1942 to 1945, Japanese residents of the City took refuge within the walls. When the battle to liberate the City of Cebu from the Imperial Japanese forces was fought, the fort served as an emergency hospital for the wounded.

From 1946 to 1950, Fort San Pedro was an army camp. After 1950, the Cebu Garden Club took over and fixed the inner part and converted it into a miniature garden.

Although already in ruins, the upper deck was utilized for different offices. First, as a clinic of the City Health, as office of the Presidential Arm and Community Development then the City Public Works Unit used the ruins of the Lieutenant's Quarters as its field office.

In 1957 Mayor Sergio Osmeña Jr. jolted the public with his announcement to demolish Fort San Pedro and erect on the spot a new City Hall. This started a movement against the demolition idea. Articles voicing opposition appeared in the local dailies and magazines in Cebu City and in Manila. Finally, confronted by civic leaders and society heads at his Cebu City Hall office, he gave up his idea and said he will use instead the space behind the fort.[3]

In the very same year, the city council commissioned "The Lamplighter", a religious sect, to manage a zoo subsidized by the city within the fort courtyard.

By 1968, the facade, quarters and walls of the original structures of Fort San Pedro were so obliterated that only the two towers were recognizable. Plans for the restoration of the fort was started and the zoo was relocated.

Plans and estimates for the restoration of the fort were completed by Architect Leonardo Concepcion, who had completed his MA in Restoration in Madrid. The project was jointly funded by the Board of Travel Industry (now Department of Tourism), the Cebu City Government, and the Cebu Zonta Club.

The Fort San Pedro Restoration was a tedious, time and labor consuming project. To restore the fort as close to the original as possible, coral stones which were hauled from under the sea along Cebu coastal towns were utilized. Delivered crudely cut to the restoration site, the fort laborers did the final cutting and polishing to make the blocks fit each other.

Work progressed slowly but the facade, the main building, (Cuerpo de Guardia), the walk and the observatory roof garden were faithfully restored after one and a half years. To make the project functional; the restored main building serves then as the Cebu Office of the Department of Tourism, the Lieutenant's Quarters now houses a museum, the inner court is an open air theater and its immediate vicinity as a park.

At present, it is under the care and administration of the City of Cebu,[4] as historical park under Executive Order No. 08-87 created on February 20, 2008. The said order also known as Plaza Independencia - Fort San Pedro Interim Policy and Advisory Board (PIFSIPAB) appointed Hon. Michael L. Rama as overall Overseer of the Plaza Independencia and Fort San Pedro.[5] The land on which it is situated is, however, owned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

These days, part of the fort is a museum. Inside the fort houses the legacies of the Spanish Government. The well preserved Spanish artifacts such as Spanish documents, paintings and sculpture. A large statue of Legazpi and Antonio Pigafetta may be seen outside the fort walls.

Inside Fort San Pedro Facing Entrance, August 2010.

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