The Watch

San Fernando and San Jose Fortresses

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Did You Know?
Emerging from the steel-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the fortresses of San Fernando and San José stand sentinel over Cartagena Bay's inlet.
A Closer Look

San Fernando and San Jose Fortresses

Emerging from the steel-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the fortresses of San Fernando and San José stand sentinel over Cartagena Bay’s inlet. Constructed in the 18th century under the watchful eye of King Ferdinand VI, the great white-stone façades of the military strongholds offered protection to Spanish settlements in the New World. San José, the first to be completed, was destroyed by the British Admiral Vernon in 1741, only to be rebuilt following the plans of engineer Ignacio Sala in 1752. San Fernando’s structure, initially composed of brushwood and mud, was completed in stone according to the plans of Juan Bautista Mac-Evans in 1779. Today, the fortresses remain essential examples of Spanish colonial military architecture, as well as symbols of the city of Cartagena de Indias. San Fernando and San José are vital to the economy of the northwest Colombian city, whose population relies heavily on tourism as a means of employment. However, efforts to deepen the Bocachica waterway for vessel access and increased economic development critically threaten the stability and structure of the outer walls, exposing the difficulty of the decisions to come.

Since the Watch

Since Watch listing, the government has allocated $200,000 for the development of a conservation management plan for the site. July 2010

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