Callao, Peru Travel Guide

Callao is probably a suburb of the capital Lima. Yet the town holds as many as 600,000 chalecos, which is the term used for the inhabitants of Callao. The port of Callao is the most anchored and important port in all of Peru.

Since the colonial era, the port has been a busy area and an important hub for both trade and shipping. As Callao, like the rest of Peru, was subject to Spanish rule, the port was important not only for Peru but for all Spanish trade in the Pacific in general.

Callao’s location

As a suburb and port city of the capital Lima, Callao is located on the west coast of Peruvia. Callao is built on the peninsula of La Punta, near a number of other islands.

These include islands such as San Lorenzo, El Fronton and Palominos. As the islands lie frolicking in the South Pacific, they are often joined by both sea lions and seabirds.

Experiences in Callao

Real Felipe – Callaos fort

Real Felipe - Callaos fort Peru

Real Felipe is a large historic fort, built back in the 18th century by Spanish troops. Here the Spaniards lived for a whole year back in the year 1826 during the Peruvian War of Independence. The beautiful round fort covers a total of 70,000 km2, and is thus the largest fort that the Spaniards have built in Peru.

In the year 1847, the area was also visited by the Danish research group, which carried out the well-known scientific expedition Galathea 1. Despite the fact that the expedition is mentioned in countless history books, the Danes were not enthusiastic about what they saw in Callao. In non-commissioned officer Benjamin Bruun’s diary, the city is even described as a “lousy poor hole”.

To this day, the Real Felipe fort forms the setting for the historic military museum “Museo del Ejército”. Among tourists, the museum has become an extremely popular sight, where stories and myths are summarized and retold.

Palomino Island

Not far from the coast of Callao is one of the many islands “Palomino”. A trip out here is almost a necessity, at least for those who are interested in the area’s absolutely amazing wildlife. Boat sightings and sounds of the animal-covered island are something you will soon forget.

At Palomino, sea lions, seabirds and humbled penguins live side by side. In fact, the animals are quite social, which is why it is possible to get unimaginably close to the amazing creatures. Many guides have diving suits with them, and offer you to jump into the water, where you have the opportunity for a swim with the fantastic sea lions.

The submarine Abtao

In the year 1950, the Peruvian navy bought a beautiful, 80 meter long submarine from the United States. This was later to be christened Abtao. The submarine Abtao has served the Peruvian fleet well through its 48 years on the water. Here, for example, it has made over 5,000 dives.

Back in the 1950s, the crew at Abtao consisted of 7 officers and 33 mandates. Today, the only crew on the submarine are museum staff and mannequins showcasing the old navy uniforms. Abtao is still located in the port of Callao, where tourists and school classes frequently visit the retired submarine, which has not been in service since 1999.

Callao’s history

Indian, Portuguese or Spanish?

Like many other cities in Peru, Callao was founded by Spanish colonists back in the year 1537 – two years after the founding of the Peruvian capital Lima. Where the city’s name comes from remains a mystery.

Some believe that Callao has an Indian background, while others point out the similarity between Callao and the Portuguese name Calhau. Logically, there are most supporters of Callao’s of Spanish origin, as the name has been known since 1550, when the city remained under Spanish colonial rule.

Battle of Callao

The absolute hallmark of Callao is the vibrant and influential port. In addition, goods from Peru, Bolivia and Argentina were transported by mule over the Andes. They were then shipped from the port of Callao to Panama by ship, after which they were sent to either Cuba or Spain.

Peru gained independence around the year 1822, but not many years had to pass before the Spaniards again tried to gain access to the Peruvian land. May 2, 1866 is known as the “Battle of Callao”. Here, Spanish troops tried to recapture the city – but without success.

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