Fort San Pedro: Philippines' Oldest and Smallest Fort

Fort San Pedro is among the more recognizable historical landmarks in Cebu City. It is located adjacent to Plaza Independencia, Aduana, and Pier 1. The street address is Antonio Pigafetta Street, Cebu City. It is also referred to as the Cotta. On certain times of the year, tourism interns act as guides within the attraction. They give free tours although tip are much appreciated.

Quick Facts:

  • The smallest and oldest triangular bastion fort in the Philippines
  • The structure was built in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders
  • It served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the country
  • It's three bastions were named La Concepcion, Ignacio de Loyola and San Miguel
  • Total inside area is 21,800 square feet or 2,025 square meters
  • The walls are 20 feet high (6.1 meters) and and 8 feet thick (2.4 meters)
  • The towers are 30 feet high (9.1 meters)
  • Fourteen cannons were installed inside this military camp
  • The Cuerpo de Guardia is the largest building within Fort San Pedro
  • The living quarters of the lieutenant was called Vivendi del Teniente
  • Attached to the walls of the bastion San Miguel was the Alamazoros del Rivera or powder magazine
  • The fort was named after the flagship of the Legaspi expedition.
Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Fort San Pedro in Cebu City

Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Fort San Pedro in Cebu City


May 8, 1565 ---- Work on the construction of the fort was started.

1738 ------------ Fort San Pedro was built as indicated at it's gate.

1898 ------------ The Spanish surrendered the fort to Cebuano revolutionaries

1937-1941 ------ Utilized by the University of the Philippines

1942-1945 ------ Japanese residents used the fort as refuge

1946-1950 ------ Fort used as an Army camp

1950 ------------ Turned over to the Cebu Garden Club

1957 ------------ Mayor Sergio Osmena Sr. announced plans to demolish the fort. He later gave up the plan amidst strong public opposition.

1957 ------------ The Lamplighter, a religious sect was commissioned to manage a zoo within the fort's courtyard.

1968 ------------ Zoo was relocated. Plans for restoration were started.

Interesting Artifacts and Areas Inside Fort San Pedro 

Inside Fort San Pedro are galleries of historical artifacts and art pieces. Some areas are also of particular tourist interest. I shall also discuss popular events and things to do inside this popular tourist attraction.

Cuerpo del Guardia 

The Cuerpo del Guardia is the largest building inside Fort San Pedro. It houses practically every office or room inside the structure.

Cuerpo del Guardia at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Guards' quarters

Museum Gallery

A room at the ground floor of the Cuerpo del Guardia is dedicated as a museum gallery with displays depicting the heroism of Datu Lapu-lapu and excerpts from Ferdinand Magellan's rediscovery of the Philippines.

Old Spanish Flag 

Inside the museum gallery is an old and tattered Spanish flag encased in glass.

Old Spanish flag at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Old flag of Spain

Original Spanish Sword 

Also encased in glass at the museum gallery is an original 18th century Spanish sword.

Old Spanish sword at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Old Spanish sword

Art Gallery 

An art gallery with displays of paintings by local artists is located on the second floor of the Cuerpo del Guardia. You will find more displays at the Vivendi del Teniente which is also located on the second floor of the Cuerpo del Guardia.


Fort San Pedro is a tri-bastion fort. It has three bastions: La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola, and San Miguel. The powder magazine (Almacenes de Polvora) was attached to the Bastion San Miguel. A 2013 earthquake ruined some of the areas in Fort San Pedro. The bastions suffered major damages but has since been reconstructed.

One of three bastions at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
One of three bastions at Fort San Pedro


There were 14 cannons originally mounted at the Fort San Pedro. You can still see some of these cannons on display.

One of fourteen cannons at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
A cannon at Fort San Pedro

The Well 

According to an account by one Reverend Lorenzo Perez O.M. as published on a book in 1975 (Madonnas in the Philippines by Lutgardo Aviado), the second oldest image of the Virgin Mary was found inside a well at Fort San Pedro between 1570 to 1575. The find earns it the name Nuestra SeƱora de la Cotta. Officially, it is referred to as the Virgin or Remedies. This image was transferred to a dedicated altar at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in the 19th century. Unfortunately, this European sculpture was lost in the chaos of World War II. The well where it was found is now a wishing well inside the fort and has been reinforced with concrete.

Well at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
The wishing well at Fort San Pedro

The Courtyard 

The courtyard of Fort San Pedro is where wedding receptions and other activities are held. The gardens around it are also very well-maintained.

The courtyard of Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
The courtyard


The Fort San Pedro is a popular place to hold garden weddings and wedding receptions. Barely a month goes by where there is no wedding-related event scheduled at the courtyard.

Blind Musicians

A regular attraction at the Fort San Pedro is the smooth singing voice of a blind musician. He plays with his accompanying guitar beside the canteen. This blind musician makes his living off tips from generous tourists.

Blind musicians at Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
Blind musicians

Have you visited Fort San Pedro in Cebu City? We'd like to know about your experience. You may share them in the comments below.


xylem said...

Great! What an interesting post indeed. =)