Some 35 miles downriver the hilled fortress El Castillo, after which the adjacent village is named, looms up. Originally called Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, it awaits a nomination as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
After the Spanish discovered a seaway from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Nicaragua commerce thrived in the region, attracting British pirates- among whom the notorious Henry Morgan- who roamed the river to loot the wealthy colonial town of Granada.
To prevent further attacks, the heavily fortified El Castillo was built in 1675. Both pirates and English troops, at war with Spain, continued to assault the region however, and El Castillo witnessed numerous battles fought on its grounds. One particular battle is legendary as it has an unlikely heroine: Rafaella Herrera, the 19 year old daughter of the deceased legion commander. Against all odds, she succeeded in withstanding an attack of an overpowering English force. Eighteen years later, an English army led by a young Horatio Nelson conquered the fortress only to lose it nine months later.
El Castillo nowadays houses a museum telling its intriguing history, and the fortress is open for the general public. Try to visualize the violent past: given the tranquility of the place this is not easy task.
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Office La Fortuna:
5 kilometers east of La Fortuna centre, next to the ice factory QR
P.O Box 141-4417 La Fortuna de San Carlos.
Tel: (506) 2479-8667 / (506) 8838-4597