At the beginning of the XVII century the defensive strategy changed, giving preference to fortifying the entrance to the inner bay instead of the Bocagrande passage, the demolition of the fortress of San Matías and the Platform of Santángel, situated […]
At the beginning of the XVII century the defensive strategy changed, giving preference to fortifying the entrance to the inner bay instead of the Bocagrande passage, the demolition of the fortress of San Matías and the Platform of Santángel, situated in Punta Icacos and Tierrabomba respectively, were ordered by a Royal Decree of 1626. The governor Francisco de Murga promoted the construction of the fortress of Santa Cruz in Punta Judío and the platform of San Juan, erected about 1631 on the island of Manzanillo. The Santa Cruz, also known as Castillogrande, and the San Juan, prevented access to the port by means of their crossfire.
The shipwreck that closed the Bocagrande passage in 1640 again modified the defensive plan, Bocachica now becoming the place where greater military force was concentrated, and, therefore, the dismantling of Castillogrande and Manzanillo was ordered. The work dragged on and Manzanillo was not dismantled, but it did remain abandoned until the attack of Baron De Pointis in 1697, when it was partially destroyed.
In 1724 the engineer Juan de Herrera y Sotomayor proposed enlarging the platform that was being used as a storage facility, but the Crown preferred to make some repairs to store artillery and ammunition. Its lack of importance in a military sense would be demonstrated during Vernon’s siege in 1741, when the English forces did not attack the garrison located there, and it remained isolated during the siege. Bocachica would be the defense of the city from then on and San Juan would be relegated to a storage facility.
The San Juan had two half bulwarks on the north side, joined by a curved wall with embrasures, a cistern, and an arms yard divided into two sections. Currently, the ammunition storage area that was restored by the architect Germán Téllez about 1980 has been conserved, and it is integrated into Colombia’s House for Illustrious Guests.