From the time construction began in 1565, Fort San Pedro has served more than the purpose for which it was built. Today, it is not just another tourist destination to go to, but a chronicle of events in Cebu. A visit will give you flashbacks of the different eras that have made use of the Fort as their venue.
First built with logs and mud, Fort San Pedro began as a triangular fortress. It was Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who broke ground for the beginning of the construction. It was built in order to resist attacks from unfriendly natives and Muslim invaders. In the beginning, there was actually no record at all of the construction of Fort San Pedro until it was mentioned in an official report written and sent to King Philip II of Spain. This only happened in 1739, about a year when construction was already done.
Fort San Pedro has an area of more than 2000 square meters, walls that are about 20 feet high and eight feet thick and towers at 30 feet from the ground.
Here is a timeline of Fort San Pedro’s numerous changes in usage across time:
- From 1896-1898 it became a prison for local rebels during the Philippine Revolution.
- In May 1, 1898, a few days after war was declared between Spain and the USA, the Fort was turned over to Cebuanos by American Commodore George Dewey after the decisive battle of Manila Bay.
- During the American regime, it was also utilized as barracks before it was turned into classrooms for Cebuanos where they received formal education from 1937-1941.
- From 1941-1945 or during the Japanese invasion, it was used as a prison camp and fortification for Japanese soldiers.
- In 1946-1950 Fort San Pedro became a hospital and army camp.
- In 1950 the Cebu Garden Club took over and converted the inner area into a miniature garden while government agencies occupied the upper decks.
- In 1957 the front courtyard was used as a zoo.
Restoration began when in 1968, only two towers were recognizable. Reconstruction was, just like the initial construction, a slow and painful progress. In fact, to make Fort San Pedro as close to the original during reconstruction, coral stones from under the coastal areas of Cebu were used. The present most image of Fort San Pedro is that of a museum-park where many Spanish artifacts, documents, and even weapons are displayed.
When visiting, visitors have to pay a very minimal amount of Php 10.00 as entrance. To get there, one can take a taxi cab. A taxi ride from the uptown area would be about Php 70.00. But if you want to be more pinoy, take a jeepney that has the label Plaza or Pier 2 on them. In front of Fort San Pedro is another landmark, Plaza Independencia.
If you want a more exciting history lesson than those you had in school, visit Fort San Pedro in Cebu, it’s a standing witness to the long history of the city.