Located at 14 Km. (8.7 miles) west of Lima, it is the main marine port of Peru. Callao was founded by Spanish colonists in 1537. During the Conquest and the Viceroyalty, it was also the main port of all the Spanish Colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and the only one authorized to trade and transport goods to Spain. From here all the gold, silver and jewels that were extracted of the Peruvian territory were sent to the crown of Spain, via Panama.
Callao is built on and around a peninsula, the district of La Punta, a wealthy residential neighborhood. An historical fortress, the Castillo de Real Felipe (site of "Rodil's Last Stand"), stands on the promontory overlooking the harbor. Colonial and old houes in the downtown.
Callao has several islands: San Lorenzo (currently a military base), El Frontón (a former high security prison), the Cavinzas, and the Palominos, where numerous sea lions and sea birds live in a virtually untouched ecosystem.
Lima's Jorge Chávez International Airport is located in Callao. The seaport of Callao is the main port on Pacific Ocean in South America.
At the end of Saenz Peña Avenue stands the Real Felipe fortress, a vast construction dating back to 1747, when it was built to defend the port from pirates such as Drake, who sacked the city in the sixteenth century. The Real Felipe also played an important role in Peru's war of independence. One can also visit Chucuito, a small fishermen's cove lined with Gothic and neo-Renaissance houses, as well as typical wooden homes painted in bright colors nearby.
The tour continues on through La Punta, a traditional district which forms part of Callao and which is ideal for walking and taking in the tangy sea breeze. This old quarter, once the home of Lima's aristocracy, features a superb oceanside promenade, pebble beaches and stately homes dating back to the early days of the Republic at the start of the nineteenth century, as well as others from the 1930s-50s. Out to sea lie the islands of El Camotal, San Lorenzo, El Frontón, Cavinzas and Palomino, which can be visited in tours arranged by the Callao Town Hall. Tours set out from the Plaza Grau square, near the Real Felipe.
During the tour, visitors will take in islands such as El Camotal, rich in scallops and which according to history was linked to Callao until the 1746 earthquake. The boat then skirts San Lorenzo, Peru's largest island, where religious ceremonies were performed in pre-Hispanic times. The island was later studied by Charles Darwin. To the north one can spot El Cabezo, an ideal beach for fishing, and the island of El Frontón, once a prison which housed the country's most dangerous criminals. The Cavinzas isles are a haven for sea birds, some of them migratory, and together with the Palomino isles form a set of islands which are a refuge for species such as sea lions
Spanish military fortress, built between 1,747 and 1,774, bastion of defense of the port of Callao from the pirate and corsairs. It was the last defense wall during the independence of Peru. Designed by Luis Godín according to the plans of the Vaudan School that dominated the military art of the time. It possesses 70 thousand square meters of area, has pentagonal shape, 5 ramparts, walls, cord, railing, embankments and escapes. It possessed 188 canyons of brass and 124 of iron. At the moment part of this fortress constitutes a Military Historical Museum.
Military Historical Museum
Location: Real Felipe Fortress.
Schedule: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 13:30
Inaugurated in 1946, exhibition of weapons collection used in the Independence and beginnings of the Republic, documents, military uniforms and relics that date since 1730. Visits to part of the Real Felipe Fortress.
Naval Museum Capitan de Navío Julio C. Elías
Location: Jorge Chávez Nº 126, Grau Square.
Attention: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 12:00 - Sunday from 09:00 to 13:00
Exhibition of collections of historical pieces from the Heroes of Angamos, naval weapons, historical documentation of the Peruvian Marine, models of ships, heroes' paintings and naval combats. Relics of Admiral Miguel Grau, maximum naval Hero in Peru. In front a Submarine museum.
Beaches and resorts
In the south west part of Callao are located the spas "La Punta" and "Cantolao, residential area with attractive constructions and stony beaches, nautical clubs, sailboats and oar boats competitions, the Navy Academy (Escuela Naval) is also located there.