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The Port of Callao

The first known dock in Callao was built under the command of Viceroy Conde de la Monclova in 1654, whose structure was built on a rock pier (rock dock). In 1694, travelers pointed out the existence of an excellent stone pier that occupied the site called "Puerta de la Marina del Callao", which had been built with stones extracted from the island of San Lorenzo and the pre-Hispanic fortress of Huarco in Cañete.


The dock was enclosed by walls of stone, adobe, brick and lime. There were other smaller docks that were used for boarding and disembarking operations. The architecture of the port and city of Callao is characterized by mixed-use buildings, intended on the first floors for commerce (offices, warehouses, warehouses) and the second floors for housing and particularly lodging and inns. The materials of the houses follow the patterns bequeathed by the colonial period: houses with stone bases (some near the sea also had basements), rammed earth, adobón and adobe walls (some used the walls of the old colonial warehouses as a base) and quincha inside and the upper floors. The predominant style is the so-called “republican” style, with neoclassical influence. Box balconies, similar to those in Lima, and continuous balconies were developed.


Some houses had high viewpoints. The presence of merchants from all over the world, especially Italians, gave some buildings an Italianate character. In 1866, the port of Callao was the scene of the Battle of May 2, in which civil and military forces together confronted the Spanish Navy stationed in front of the port and ready to destroy it, as had happened with Valparaíso. A series of defenses were established along the sea line. The Minister of War José Gálvez directed from the tower of La Merced, who died when the powder magazine exploded, hit by an enemy shot. However, the fierce resistance from the port forced the Spanish force to abandon Peruvian territory permanently. In commemoration of this event, the “Plaza 2 de Mayo”, later “José Gálvez”, was born.


Historian of the Directorate of Real Estate Historical Heritage

Ministry of Culture of Peru

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