Fuerte Bulnes, Punta Arenas

#5 of 9 in Historic Sites in Magallanes Region
Historic Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Fuerte Bulnes is a Chilean fort located by the Strait of Magellan, 62 km south of Punta Arenas. It was founded in 1843 on a rocky hill at Punta Santa Ana, and named after President Manuel Bulnes Prieto.

The fort was built to further the president's colonization policies in Southern Chile and protect the Strait of Magellan. He directed construction to ward off claims by other nations. Chiloé's intendant (governor), Domingo Espiñeira Riesco, ordered construction of a schooner to sail to that location. He originally commissioned it in the president's name, but Bulnes had the ship renamed Goleta Ancud, for where it was built.

She sailed from Ancud on May 22, 1843, under command of Commander John Williams Wilson, Chilean Navy. (British-born, he joined the Chilean Navy in 1824, where he used a Hispanic version of his name and signed documents as Juan Guillermos.) He arrived at Punta Santa Ana on September 21, 1843, about 2 km from Puerto del Hambre. He directed the construction of a fort here, using mainly logs and dirt and grass 'bricks'.

Although the president wanted to establish a town, the harsh weather prevented attracting a large and stable population. As a result, after six years, the government founded Punta Arenas in the Sandy Point area in 1848. Once people had migrated there, military forces abandoned and destroyed the fort. Lieutenant Cambiazo supervised its burning.

Between 1941 and 1943, the government directed the fort to be reconstructed as a historic monument. The replica includes the church, chaplain's quarters, jail, powder magazine, post office and stables. It was declared a national monument in 1968. Today, it is administered by a private company.

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  • A visit to Fort Bulnes gives a deeper insight into the ancient history of the region. It is located at a short driving distance from Punta Arenas. The guided tour in English of this fort was worth it....  more »
  • The highlight of our visit to Parque del Estrecho de Magallanes (Strait of Magellan Park) was definitely Fuerte Bulnes (Fort Bulnes). What's there today is a reconstruction, but this was the site of....  more »
  • This location has so much information from the first people that lived in this locations. The replicas of the homes are espectacular. It's like traveling back in time. They have a church, cannons, an amazing view to the ocean. The meaning of this place and how this helped Punta Arenas Chile is incredible!
  • The place corresponds to an historic Anchorage of the first pilgrims in this latitude, everything has been rebuilt, none of the original fort remains, although is worthwhile the visit, to understand more of the history of the strait of Magellan and the Patagonia. The facilities have everything you need, cafeteria, bathroom, guided tours and a museum.
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