Many Dominican historians place the origin of the San Luis Fortress on the year 1674, when in the Government of don Ignacio Bayas Bazán it is assigned don Andrés Núñez de la Torra as the Major of Santiago; a position that he would use to write to the Spanish Courts about the military and strategic importance of that location, leading to the raising of a fortified citadel there.

Others estimate that the fortress exists from the beginning of the nineteenth century, when in the “France Era”, by appointment of the Governor Jean-Louis Ferrand, don Agustín Franco de Medina, Major of this demarcation, begins setting the foundations for a military fortress: trees were cut down, excavations were made, and rustic cane-roofed barracks were built. This occurs between 1804 and 1805, and with this initiative Santiago city was prepared as a stronghold to prevent the transit of the invaders from the west on their way to Santo Domingo city.

Placeholder Picture

The Name of “San Luis"

It should not be doubted that the name San Luis given to the fortress was inspired by Franco de Medina himself, to honor the French king, Luis IX, which is the only one among the Catholic saints that besides being of French origins, was also a king and a warrior. It is likely as well that the name was chosen to please Governor Jean-Louis Ferrand, as he had it on his name and was a close friend of Franco de Medina.

1848 - 1884

By 1863, during the Dominican War of Restoration, the establishments would be more, given that in the exercises patio existed a place that functioned as a kitchen for the troops that occupied the place where today is the public prison.

Regarding the spaniards, it is presumed that they did not have either the time, the materials or the morals to raise stable fortifications, so they arranged a row of huts sheltered with yagua (a type of palm leaves) that served as hospital and deposits. These structures were consumed by a fire that the September 6, 1863 hit the east wing, in front of the current neighborhood Los Pepines.

It is presumed that during the government of Pedro Santana, in 1848, in that space it was built the Commandancy of Arms, the Arsenal and one or two barracks and / or prisons called “La Rosa" and "El Clavel".

In 1875 it was opened the school of primary education, created by the Government of General Ignacio María González for classes and officials of the Yaque Battalion.

In 1881 the barracks next to the arsenal on the southeast side were completed.

In 1884 the military hospital of the fortress was built.

Structure until 2005

Torre del Reloj, Fortaleza San Luis
Clock Tower

The present appearance of the fortress dates back to the final two decades of the nineteenth century, when the public clock tower was built. In 1895, as a gift from President Ulysses Heureaux, the two gates, the northern and the eastern, were built; and in 1890 (February 27 or August 16) the wall of bricks that surrounded the fortress was completed. In 1895 the iron door that closes the northern gate, the only surviving one, was manufactured and placed; and the two masonry walls of the sides of the entrances were built.

In 1907 the public prison was opened in order to improve the conditions of the provincial penitentiary.

During the government of President Ramón Cáceres, in 1910, substantial reforms were made to accommodate the military that were assigned there, which were followed by other improvements made by the US Marines during their occupation of the country from 1916 to 1924.

During the "Trujillo Era" several important reforms in the fortress were also conducted.

Construction of the Cultural Museum

The San Luis fortress, a valuable historical heritage of the city of Santiago, the Cibao valley and the country, has been recently under reconstruction works, devised and led by the then Army Major General, architect Gustavo A. Jorge García. Thanks to these works the fortress has acquired a renewed appearance and hosts a cultural museum. To achieve this, he relied on the economic support of a friend businessman, the deceased don Huáscar Rodríguez Herrera, and the support of a group of Fine Arts artists. 

Opened on June 4, 2005, the Cultural-Historical Center Fortaleza San Luis aims to rescue the Dominican historical and cultural values, as well as the enhancement of fine arts artists and historians of Santiago and the country. The center has an important and varied collection of objects and pieces of art of high historical, military and cultural value, which together with its architecture, history, location and frequent activities, makes it a place that should not be missed by students and researchers, national and foreign tourists, and by all the enthusiasts of these matters. 

Memorable Dates

March 6, 1844
Pronouncement of Santiago in favor of the Dominican Independence and raising of the National Flag at 4:00 pm.

March 30, 1844
Reserve troops were engaged during the memorable battle of March 30.

July 7, 1857
Revolution against President Buenaventura Báez, which proclaims Santiago as capital of the Republic and as president the General José Desiderio Valverde, a native of this city.

September 6, 1863
Took place a famous battle in the War of Restoration against Spanish troops stationed in the fort pound, which they abandoned days later, given the siege to which they were subjected to.

September 22, 1914
Ended the “siege of the comeburros (donkey-eaters)" when General Manuel Sánchez, loyal to the government of President Bordas Valdez, delivers the fortress to the forces of Juan Isidro Jimenes. The garrison of it was forced to eat donkeys, horses, cats and herbs in the final days of the siege. Hence the name "comeburros".

July 12, 1924
Raising of the National Flag at 1:00 pm, even with the presence of US forces that abandoned the fort 18 days later, after having occupied it since July 6, 1916.

February 23, 1930
Exploded movement that overthrew President Horacio Vásquez, led by Rafael Estrella Ureña, with the underhanded support of Chief of the Army, Brigadier Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina.


Free entrance!


Fortaleza San Luis
Recinto Histórico Cultural
Calle Vicente Estrella esquina calle San Luis,
Santiago de los Caballeros 

phone number
Placeholder Picture
Placeholder Picture

Website provided by MSc. J.A. Castillo for Fortaleza San Luis ©2018 All rights reserved