The Baluarte de Santiago (Bulwark of Saint James) is one of the most recent colonial military fortifications located in San Francisco de Campeche’s historic city center. Constructed by Spanish viceroyal authorities and completed in the early 1700s, its inland location and small size meant it didn’t see much action against piracy, unlike the forts of San José el Alto or San Francisco.
Perhaps, for this reason, post-colonial preservation of the building was less intense and lead to an eventual decay of most of the fort’s internal structures. However, the outer walls remained mostly intact and now encircle the Xmuch’haltún Botanical Garden.
A stone atop the entrance features the name Santiago as well as the year 1704. This is incorrect, as the actual year the bulwark was completed is believed to have been closer to 1710.
In Yucatec Mayan language the garden’s name means, “water that springs from the earth.” The water, in the case of the garden, is a central fountain that feeds several canals that water the plants throughout the garden.
The garden contains a large variety of tropical species and includes information on Maya herbal medicine. There is also information on which plants were used in activities such as dying fabrics and thatching homes.
Know Before You Go
Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, the garden re-opens from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Entrance is MXN $10 per person.