Dominican Republic: Puerta Plata – Fortaleza San Felipe

Puerto Plata holds the gem of one of the oldest Spanish forts in the Americas – Fortaleza San Felipe – commission by King Philip II of Spain and built in 1564 to protect the city against pirate and British corsair attacks. The remains are weathered but still in fantastically awesome condition. Officially, the fortress is closed for COVID, but we got lucky and the guard let us in to explore in your own – we had the entire Fortaleza San Felipe to ourselves with panoramic views from the towers and the roof – ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Just nearby is the port of Puerto Plata, which the Fortaleza San Felipe was built to protect. Interestingly, a year before the fort was commission, this very place was where British privateer Sir John Hawkins brought 400 men he abducted in Sierra Leone and traded them here for gold, pearls, sugar, and cow hides. This very act was the beginning of the British involvement in the slave trade over the Atlantic.