A long the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, one will come across impressive forts, giant walls rising above the waters of Mexico, made to protect the treasures of the new world. Dare to enjoy a trip to the past and discover the fascinating stories behind these forts in Mexico.
Pirates’ stories begin when Hernán Cortés sent to the Spanish monarchy proof of the great treasures hidden in the New World, which instantly made other kingdoms jealous and envious of those treasures. Being Spain the only nation that could actually take advantage of the natural resources in the New World, England, France, Holland and Portugal allied with pirates, so they would steal those precious treasures from the Spanish!
Robberies were not just at sea, ports of New Spain (today Mexico) were un protected and that’s why the Spanish government ordered the construction of strong buildings to protect their treasures: Forts in Mexico.
The San Juan de Ulúa Fort
The San Juan Ulúa Fort was the first to be constructed in the continent. Built in a small island in front of Veracruz’ Port, it has been the guardian of the city for more than 500 years.
Its dungeon, patio and hallways have witnessed some of the fiercest pirate attacks. San Juan de Ulúa came out victorious in September 23rd 1568 when the English pirates: John Hawkins and Francis Drake were defeated in a terrible battle against the Spanish general, Francisco Luján.
Unfortunately in 1683 the fort was taken by the famous pirate Lauren Graff “Lorencillo”. He attacked the port with more than one thousand and two hundred marines, who viciously stole great treasures from the city and left hundreds of victims behind them.
Now the fort is one of the favorite tourist sites at Veracruz because it’s not only the scenario of pirates stories, but is now the place where Chucho el Roto, the Mexican Robin Hood escaped from justice and of course the legend of La Mulata de Cordova, a witch that could escape using just a piece of coal.
Campeche the walled city
South of Veracruz, you’ll find Campeche, a walled town, a city that was constantly been subject of pirate attacks. This, was the second port of New Spain, where silver, gold, orchids and palo de tinte (a plant used to made ink) was exported to Spain.
At this point of the story, the pirate Lauren Graff “Lorencillo” attacked again but this time Campeche was his main target. This is the reason why the city built walls around it.
Instead of time and the grown up of the city the walls and forts are still part of Campeche making it a magic and mysterious town.
San Felipe: Mayas, pirates and Conquests
The Mexican Caribbean was assaulted by pirates too. Along the coast of Quintana Roo you will hear different stories about them as Fermín Mundaca, a slave dealer that escaped from the British marine and turned Isla Mujeres into his hiding place.
Just a few meters from the Bacalar Lagoon you’ll find San Felipe Fort, which keeps the story of the city since pre-Hispanic times to today.
Bacalar was attacked because this was the point for trading merchandise. The most daring pirates landed in Bacalar to get food and kidnap women. Later the town was also harassed for palo de tinte.
The years of piracy, robbery and assaults has left a mark in these towns, fantastic and mysterious buildings that you can visit. Dare to relieve history and amaze yourself with the architecture and beauty of these stone giants.