San Juan de Ulúa

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San Juan de Ulúa

San Juan de Ulúa, a fortress on La Gallega Island, a coral key facing the Mexican port of Veracruz. Juan de Grijalva gave it this name on his first expedition in 1518. Cortés landed there in 1519. Until the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was the port where the Spanish fleets moored and from where silver and gold were shipped. In the late 1500s, Juan Bautista Antonelli began its fortification, which was completed by Jaime Franck in 1692. John Hawkins and Francis Drake attacked San Juan de Ulúa in 1568. In 1683 it was taken by Lorencillo (Lorenzo Jácome), who also captured and sacked Veracruz. It was the last stronghold of the Spanish on the continent and resisted a siege from 1821 until 1825. Occupied by French troops in 1838 and American forces in 1847, the fortress was the presidential residence of Benito Juárez (1859–1860) during the war of the Reform and of Carranza in the Revolution (1915). That same year it ceased being used as a prison. Its narrow cells, made dank by the sea, were known as las tinajas (large earthen jugs). The Jesuits expelled in 1767 were imprisoned there, as were supporters of independence and some opponents of Porfirio Díaz.

When the modern port of Veracruz was completed in 1902, the key on which the fortress stands was connected to the mainland by a breakwater. All but abandoned for many years, San Juan de Ulúa was restored in 1991. It is preserved as a historic monument, the site of much Mexican and American history throughout four centuries.

See alsoGrijalva, Juan de .


Francisco Santiago Cruz, San Juan de Ulúa: Biografía de un presidio (1966).

Leonardo Pasquel, San Juan de Ulúa: Fortaleza, presidio, residencia presidencial (1969).

Bernardo García Díaz, Puerto de Veracruz (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Lane, Kris E. Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500–1750. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

Montero, Pablo. Ulúa, puente intercontinental en el siglo XVII. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia: Internacional de Contenedores Asociados de Veracruz, 1997.

Muñoz Espejo, Francisco Martín. La construcción de la fortaleza de San Juan de Ulúa. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e História, 2005.

                                           J. E. Pacheco

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San Juan de Ulúa

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San Juan de Ulúa