The fortress of Santa Bárbara offers stunning views of aqua Caribbean waters

The Fortress of Santa Bárbara in Trujillo, on the Caribbean coast

The strongpoint that fought off English raiders and French pirates today welcomes visitors from all over the world.

14 December 2020

Brian Lüdtke

Brian Lüdtke

Trujillo was the first place in Central America that Christopher Columbus visited.  When he found the water here to be very deep, he named the area “Honduras.”  (In Spanish, the word “hondo” means “deep.”)

Aside from the depth of the water, Columbus recognized the strategic value of this site as a natural port. Protected by a peninsula and by the Bay Islands of Honduras, it constitutes the perfect place for ships to shelter.

A generation later, this location was the headquarters of Cristóbal de Olid, a conquistador sent by Hernán Cortés to take control of the coast.  When Olid rebelled against Cortés, the marquess sent Francisco de las Casas to suppress the warlord and reimpose royal authority.

A statue of Christopher Columbus looks out into the Gulf of Honduras.

Las Casas ended up beheading Olid after the latter’s troops turned against their renegade commander.  Las Casas, who was born in Trujillo, Spain, named the settlement after his birthplace.

A pod of dolphins in the Gulf of Honduras

Kayaking in a lagoon near Trujillo

After this internecine feuding among the conquistadors, Trujillo became a multi-ethnic port city of New Spain.  Society was organized according to one’s heritage and place of birth, with meticulous categorization of every possible racial admixture.

A Caribbean beach with white sand and aqua-blue water, Trujillo, Department of Colón

The fortress of Santa Bárbara protected the port city during several dangerous centuries.  English privateers raided settlements throughout the Caribbean Sea, while French pirates also sought easy prey among coastal communities.

On several occasions, a few well-placed cannonballs would discourage attackers from their designs, while occasionally the local authorities had to activate the town’s militia to fight off raiders.

Today, the city of Trujillo offers a wide range of water sports and beach activities.  Hotels are well equipped to handle families or conventions, while numerous restaurants offer a great variety of choices.  Local fresh fruit and seafood of the area combine in delicious and affordable culinary delights.

Touristy downtown Trujillo, Honduras

The fortress of Santa Bárbara, Trujillo, Honduras