During the viceregal era Veracruz was the only east coast port permitted to operate in New Spain and, therefore, was attacked by pirates. This unique coral-stone fort, the last land in Mexico to be held by the Spanish Royalists, is a monument to that era. The moats, ramparts, drawbridges, prison cells, and torture chambers create a miniature city. Fortification began in 1535 under the direction of Antonio de Mendoza, the first viceroy of New Spain. A few centuries later it was used as a prison, housing such prominent figures as Benito Juárez. After independence it was used in unsuccessful attempts to fight off invading French and Americans. You can explore the former dungeons, climb up on the ramparts, and wander across grassy patios. A tiny museum holds swords, pistols, and cannons, but signs are in Spanish only. Guides wander around in the site until about 3 pm—an English-speaking guide will charge around $25 per group. The fort is connected to the city center by a causeway; a taxi here should cost about $5.
Via causeway from downtown Veracruz, Veracruz, Veracruz, 91910, Mexico