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La Caranta, Pampatar

It is located in Pampatar on the highest hill of La Caranta and to the east of the castle of San Carlos de Borromeo. Historians relate that during the government of Juan Sarmiento de Villandrando (1583-1593) a fortification was built but wasn´t completed until the period of Pedro de Salazar (1594-1596). Dutch privateers invaded it in 1626 and 1816 the army of Urreiztieta.

La Caranta was built in a strategic location. Its prupose was to defend the bay by providing a cross fire with the artillery in the castle of San Carlos de Borromeo. It has a tambour design and there is evidence that at a later date a parapet was added to reinforce the defense of the port of Pampatar. There are eleven cannons pointing straight out to sea. Today it provides a beautiful marine panorama, a view of the port, the coast and of Pampatar.

San Carlos de Borromeo Castle, Pampatar

Construction began in 1663 with the prupose of defending the important trade port and town of Pampatar. The completion of the work was carried out under the governors Francisco de Mexia y Alarcón (1671-1676) and Juan Muñoz de Gadea (1677-1681). There was been disagreement over the actual name of the castle as Juan Marroquin de Montehermoso status the name is San Carlos in homage to King Carlos II, known as “The Bewitches One” )El hechizado), ando who reigned from 1665 to 1700. On the other hand, the governor Carlos Navarro affirms that the name of the castle is San Carlos de Borromeo (1538-1584), in honor of the Saint. It is by the alter name that it is known today.

It is a regular military construction with bastions at each of the four corner. It is surrounded by a dry moat and presents three relevant features: the coastal battery of 12 eighteenth century cannons providing frontal protection from the entrance to the bay; the water tank, or trough, for the stables and which still shows remnants of the roofing that gave shade to both animals and the troops; and finally a sally port to the outside for troops and horses located at the extreme southeast end.

This castle was very important during the Independence period. History tells us that in 1816 the heroine of the War of Independence, Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi, wife of the patriot leader Juan Bautista Arismendi was transferred from the Castle of Santa Rosa in La Asunción to the Castle of San Carlos de Borromeo. Form here she was taken to La Guaira and then on to Spain.

General Pablo Morillo stayed in this castle when he invaded Margarita for the second time (July 1817) and from here he abandoned the island on the 17th of August of the same year. From that day on Margarita has remained free and became the first Province of Venezuela. On the 31st of October 1841 José María García Gómez was born in one of the dungeons. Son of the patriot leader General José María García and Rita Gomez. García Gomez became a General and held many important posts including those of Governor of the Federal District, President of the State of Miranda, Civil and Military Commander of the State of Falcón. President of the Senate, and War and Navy Minister. He died in Caracas on the 18th of May 1917.

In 1945 the building was occupied by the Marine Corps  and in 1950 by the Nacional Guard. In 1965 the castle was declared a Nacional Historic Monument. In 2001 the Nueva Esparta state Tourism Corporation became the responsible and tutelary organization for the Castle of San Carlos Borromeo. 

The Valley of the Holy Spirit  

Known locally as El valle, the “Valley of The Holy Spirit” is one of the most exuberantly tropicals spot on the island. The town was founded in 1529 by Isabel Manrique Villalobos, and ii seved as Margarita´s capital until 1562. El Valle is famous for its allegedly miraculous shrine to the Virgen del Valle. The legendary statue was supposedly found by a Guaiqueri Indian in a neraby cave. According to popular lore, a local fisherman was bitten by a shark and suffered a deep cut on his leg. He rayed to the Virgen, offering her peral to save his leg. The leg healed, and the grateful fisherman made good on his promise by living her peral in the shape of a leg. The peral is still on display, and the local continue to pray for miracles. Nearby is the Cueva de Piache, a place once sacred to the native Indians. The cave s are fun to explore.

Santa Rosa de la Asunción Castle

Work began in the first half of the seventeenth century and, according to the writing on the lintel at the entrance to the castle, was concluded in 1682. It is located on a hill overlooking the city of La Asunción, next to the reservoir, dominating the surroundings which incluye the road between Pampatar and La Asunción, the hills, the east coast, the Valley of Atamo and the slopes of the Guayamuri and Matasiete hills.

The castle has three defensive fronts consisting of two bastions, two half-bastions and three curtains facing the south, east and best and a platform with a redan facing north. In addition there is a cistern, barracas and a chapel. The parade square seems to have conserved its original design. This is where the cistern is located with a curbstone and the ramp leading to the upper level.

In one of the sells Luisa Caceres de Arismendi was imprisoned from the middle of November, 1815 until the 26th January, 1816. She had a baby here which die at birth. On the 15th December the patriots unsuccessfully tried to take over the castle suffering heavy losses. In 1816, with Bolivar´ s arrival on Margarita, on the 3rd May, the Spanish patrially destroyed the castle an abandoned it.

The structure was repaired between 1818 and 1821. Alter the struggle for Independence it was used as artillery quarters. In 1830, it became a magazine for the storage of both gunpowder and ammunition then in 1832, barracks and an armory. In 1899, it functioned as headquarters. In 1901, on instructions from the President of the Republic, the castle was repaired and used as quarters for a company of the Nacional Army.

In 1936, due to the death of general Juan Vicente Gomez, the troops abandoned the castle. In 1955, as a result of a local initiative, it became a  War Museum.

It was declared a Nacional Historic Monument on October 29th, 1965. Access is easy along a paved road. There are signs, parking and a spectacular view of the Valley of Santa Lucía. It is open to visitors from Monday to Sunday between 9:00 a.m and 6.00 p.m.

Battery and historic site of the Battle of Matasiete

On the 31st of July 1817 the most important battle in the struggle for Margarita´ s independence was foguht on the Matasiete hill. Three thousand Spanish soldiers, veterans of European wars,  commanded by General Pablo Morillo faced six hundred courageous “Margariteños” under the orders of the colonel of the grenadiers Francisco Esteban Gomez. It was a hard and bloody battle until around three in the afternoon when the Spanish troops were defeated and retreated to their base in Pampatar. The attic column that can be seen there was erected in 1917 as part of the events marking the centenary of the battle.  The names of the illustrious patriots who fought there are engraved on it. On the spot from which Murillo directed his troops a circle of cannons has been rebuilt. Access is along the road leading to the Seventh Detachment of the Nacional Guard (Destacamento 7). There is a path up to the Column. An Added attraction to the site is the splendid wiew covering an ample marine panorama, a range of beautiful hills and a wide valley.

viajandoporvenezuela.com, C.A. (2007 -2009) R.I.F.: J-29512075-3