Fuerte de San Diego            

Acapulco, Mexico                
On April 14 1579, Spanish King Felipe II (1527-1598) decreed that Acapulco was the most important Spanish port linking his kingdom with Manila and the far east, from whence a regular flow of riches came. Pirates being pirates, the area was under constant threat of attack and plunderation, so the Fuerte de San Diego was built by the Spanish from 1615 to 1617 to protect their port.

A few sources like to point out that the fort's signature feature is that it's shaped like a turtle, although to me, its signature feature is that it's shaped like a star fort. But, seeing as there were a lot more turtles than star forts in the region, I can see how such a thought might blossom. El Fuerte is also described as the most important fortification on the Pacific, which certainly seems possible, seeing as most of the star forts I've come across in my tireless search have been concentrated around the interests of European nations, most of which seem to have to do with the Atlantic.

The Fuerte de San Diego was designed to house a garrison of 2000 with enough ammunition and supplies to hold out for a year. The fort sat on its hill overlooking the harbor and did its job of frightening away skulking pirates until 1776, when an earthquake flattened much of Acapulco, and the fort along with it. The construction of a new fort with the same name was underway almost immediately, and was completed in 1783.

When the Mexicans decided they'd had enough of Spanish domination at the beginning of the 19th century, the Fuerte de San Diego was taken by revolutionary forces in a night attack in 1813. A famous phrase was uttered at the fort at this time by someone important (it's attributed to Emiliano Zapata at one Mexican site, although he wouldn't actually be born, much less capable of making noteworthy quotes, for another 66 years): "Viva Espana, hermana, no dominadora de America!" This is variously translated as, "Live Spain, sister, not dominating of America!" and "Viva Spain, sister, more dominating American!" Whatever it meant and whomever said it, they were obviously addressing their sister.

Over the years since the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), the Fuerte de San Diego has been a prison, hospital and a convent. Today it serves as Acapulco's official museum, featuring 15 exhibition halls detailing the fort's place in the city's history, the region's prehistoric residents, commercial exchange with Asia and so on.

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Fuerte de San Diego?
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