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Primer día en Perú: The Ghosts of Fortaleza del Real Felipe

After a long flight, I have finally arrived in Lima. Just as I step outside the plane, I felt a pang of heat from the humid Peruvian summer. After going through immigration and customs, I look for my friend, Ana in the waiting area. When we found each other, we hugged and screamed in joy. I met her during my trip to Japan, I remembered our animated conversations about Peru. Finally, I was there in her hometown.

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We went to her home and had breakfast, I freshened up a bit then we went out to explore Lima. Our first destination was the Real Felipe Fortress. The fortress is located in Callao and is not considered as part of Lima, however it played a significant part in Lima’s history.

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In 1896, the fortress was a key element during the naval battle between the Spanish fleet and the Peruvian army to defend the newly-independent Peru from the conquistadors who plan to reclaim its colonies.

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Back in the colonial times, Callao was the main port of the Americas, all the treasures and bounties collected by the conquistadors in Latin America were sent to Callao before sending them back home in Spain. The influx of wealth in the port caused several pirate attacks. These events prompted Viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Leiva to declare the construction of Walls of Lima between 1640 and 1647 to protect the city and the port.

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However, the 1746 Lima-Callao earthquake and tsunami destroyed the city walls. The fortress was erected as defense of the port. The construction of Real Felipe was finished in 1774 and was the biggest fortress ever built in a Spanish colony.

In present, the fortress also serves as the Peruvian Army Museum and offers visitors a glimpse of Peruvian history and chivalry of the Peruvians who fought for their independence.

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Bronze busts of the heroes of the fight for Peruvian independence are among the exhibitions inside the museum.

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Weapons and military paraphernalia  used during Colonial times and the Peruvian Independence are also displayed at the Real Felipe Fortress.

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The Casa del Gobernador is the entrance to the museum.

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The best part however was going around Torreon del Rey, where according to Ana, ghosts of thousands of prisoners that were imprisoned in worst conditions lurk and cry for justice.

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She told me that 80-100 men were imprisoned in a small corridor where they ate, urinated, defecated and slept at the same time. Prison guards would often throw scalding water to the prisoners as well. The prisoners did not often last for a month.

I had an eerie feeling as we made way to that dark and cramped corridor. In the back of my head, I could hear the groans of the prisoners.

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This was the impressive view from the Torreon del Rey. The tower is lined with cannons to defend the fortress against the invaders.

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This is the replica of  Casa de la Respuesta (House of the Answer). The house is located in Arica in Chile.When Arica was still Peruvian territory, the house served as the headquarters for the Peruvian troops defending the territory.

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Tanks, cannons and other artillery are also scattered around the fortress.

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After two hours, our tour came to an end. This was the start of my Peruvian adventure. Most would probably would associate Peru for Machu Picchu, but the country has more to offer and getting acquainted with its rich history will make one even more determined to get to know Peru.

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