Santiago Bulwark (Baluarte de Santiago) occupies a city intersection on Calle Canal between avenidas Gomez Farías and 16 de Septiembre (about 5 blks. s. of the harbor and just s. of the malecón). Downtown Veracruz has a venerable feel; most of the buildings and churches are more than 150 years old. The city once was surrounded by a defensive wall that incorporated nine fortresses—all protection against pirates—but the only one that remains is the Baluarte de Santiago. It dates from 1635 and stands at what was then the waterfront.
More impressive from the outside than the inside, the stone bulwark is surrounded by cannons. Getting to the main entrance is a challenge; you walk up an almost 45-degree stone incline with no handrail to a small drawbridge that permits access across the “moat” to the entrance door. A museum atop the bulwark contains photos and etchings of old Veracruz and a display of pre-Hispanic gold jewelry discovered by a local fisherman in the 1980s. Be forewarned: the interior is dank and musty.