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Omoa, Honduras

Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa

This fortress in Honduras was built to resist pirates, but its builders had more to fear from the British. 

Omoa, a city located on a small bay on the Caribbean Sea coast of Honduras, is home to an 18th century Spanish fort, built for protection from the pirates raiding the Atlantic Ocean. 

The fortress of San Fernando de Omoa was constructed between 1756 through 1775 and measures 4,400 square meters. However, by the time the large building project was complete, the pirate attacks in the region had dwindled. Either lured by fairer treasure-hunting prospects elsewhere or intimidated by the stone stronghold, the dreaded raiders never appeared.  

Due to the distinct lack of pirates, it was an untested group of Spanish guards that were suddenly besieged by British forces on October 16th, 1779 (Spain had just entered the American Revolutionary War, fighting on the American side). A small crew of 150 British soldiers and sailors quickly captured San Fernando de Omoa, losing only six of their men in the process. The craters from the British cannons are still visible on the fort’s walls. Although their marks persist to this day, the British themselves didn’t stick around too long. The victors held the fort only until that November, when they withdrew before a Spanish counterattack could arrive.

Over the following years, the fortress lay like a sleeping giant. It was abandoned for several years before being converted to a prison, which it remained until 1870, before being abandoned again. In 1959, the Honduran government committed to a restoration project, which has made the old Spanish garrison a proper tourist site. A well-preserved Spanish Royal Coat of Arms mounted above the entrance greets visitors as they arrive.