Built under the orders of King Philip II of Spain, Fort San Felipe has been guarding the waters off Puerto Plata for more than 450 years. It was designed to protect the town from pirates as well as European invaders and later served as a prison. Today visitors come to tour the ruins and to enjoy the sweeping sea views from its ramparts.
Fort San Felipe stands on a promontory at the end of the malecón (seawall promenade) overlooking the Atlantic. Its thick stone walls and doorways protected with coral spikes were intended to keep out invaders. In 1800, the fort was the site of a battle against the United States, when US troops defeated a combined French–Spanish force. During its time as a prison, the fort held Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the Dominican Republic’s founding fathers.
The fort is filled with military artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries, including cannons and artillery, and information panels in English and Spanish explain the building’s history.
Fort San Felipe is a popular stop on guided tours of Puerto Plata.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to Fort San Felipe is via paid ticket.
- Audio guides are available for visitors.
- Watching the sunset from the adjacent park is a popular activity.
- The fort is not wheelchair accessible.
- Make time to visit Puerto Plata lighthouse, located next to the fort.
How to Get There
Fort San Felipe is located at Avenida General Gregorio Luperón in Puerto Plata. It can be reached on foot from most places in the city center, by taxi, or as part of guided tour with round-trip transport provided.
When to Get There
Fort San Felipe is open every day except Sunday. Lunchtime through early afternoon is the most popular time to visit, but the fort never feels overcrowded. Plan to spend around 30 minutes here perusing the exhibits and enjoying the view.
The Beaches of Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata means “silver port,” and for many years it was one of the most important silver-trading ports in the Caribbean. In modern times, the city has become famous for its beautiful beaches, with soft sand, crystal clear waters, and attractive resort hotels. Sosúa Beach and Golden Beach (Playa Dorada) are among the most popular with vacationers.