El Salvador Military History

The Military Museum of El Salvador

The Military Museum of El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador.

After the signing of the peace accords on January 16, 1992, which ended twelve years of civil war in El Salvador where there was destruction and pain after the death of more than 70 thousand people, including guerrillas, military and civilians, the military museum was created to remember and to display part of the country’s military history.

In that year, all the battalions and security bodies such as the National Guard, the National Police among other military bodies were dissolved and the new National Civil Police, PNC, was formed, which is the one that watches over the safety of Salvadoran citizens today.

The Military Museum of the Armed Forces is located in the old premises where the El Zapote Barracks used to be, a building that dates back to the 1920s. Several collections are displayed here, in its 14 rooms, that takes us across historical chapters since the development of the country.

On June 16, 1993, former President Alfredo Cristiani and Rene Emilio Ponce, former Minister of National Defense, issued Executive Decree 65 to create the Military Museum of the Armed Forces of El Salvador as a dependency of the historical department of the Ministry of Defense. The former First Artillery Regiment or El Zapote Barracks, which served during the war as the FA’s Transmission Support Command, was designated as its headquarters.

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But it was not until 2002 that it was founded to show the public around 35 thousand pieces, including helicopters, cannons, coins, flags, weapons, uniforms, ammunition, military historical documents among an endless number of items that visitors can admire. Admission to the museum is free and it is easily accessible.

Visitors can visit each of the rooms, arranged in a chronological order and with a particular meaning:

Room 1 Captain General Gerardo Barrios

This room honors an important chapter in the history of El Salvador and the constitutional President of the Republic (1860-1863). This room exhibits aspects related to the Spanish conquest and colonial period that led to Central American independence. In that same context, the Armed Forces were founded. The room consists of a rich collection of military pieces, including the chair where Barrios died; and an oil painting created by Salarrué in 1936 also stands out.

Room 2 General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez
Also dedicated to the former president who ruled from 1931 to 1944, this place reveals part of the nation’s history, some personal belongings, as well as the evolution and classification of the weapons used at the time.

Room 3 General Fidel Sánchez Hernández.

He ruled from 1967 to 1972, when the “War of Legitimate Defense” against Honduras took place in 1969. In this room you will be able to see the weapons used in that historical event, photographs and documents that show the participation of the Armed Forces and the Public Security Corps, as well as the means of communication used at the time.

Room 4 Lieutenant Colonel Art. DEM Domingo Monterrosa and Room 5, Mayor. Art. DEM Armando Azmitia Melara.

Both characters stood out in the militia for their work in the confrontation in the municipality of Joateca, department of Morazán in the eighties. These areas that bear their names expose part of their history and their contribution to the Military Campaign from 1980 to 1992 in our country.

Room 6 Support Weapons
The room shows the weapons that have been used by the Armed Forces in different periods of Salvadoran history, including the one used in the Military Campaign from 1980 to 1992.

Room 7 General Francisco Menéndez
Dedicated to this military leader who promoted the development of cable communications and the railroad. He also contributed to the implementation of primary and secondary education in our country. He held his position as Provisional President from June 22, 1885 to March 1, 1887 and as President of the Republic from March 1, 1887 to June 22, 1890. In this area are shown the documents of the Signature of the Agreements de Paz, completed on January 16, 1992 and also paintings from the first peace act held in 1993.

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Room 8 Atlacatl
The room is dedicated to the mythical Atlacatl who, at the time of the conquest of Cuscatlán, is said to have fought against the Spanish. Part of the history of the currently demobilized units following the 1992 peace accords are shown: The Security Corps (they served from 1980 to 1992) and the Immediate Reaction Battalions (founded in the 1980s).

Room 9 Cuscatlán Battalion
This place pays tribute to the Armed Forces that participated in Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction Operations in the Republic of Iraq from 2003 to 2008. The collection consists of pieces belonging to the Military History Center and shows part of the history of the activities carried out by the eleven contingents of the Cuscatlán Battalion in Iraq.

Room 10 Cap. PA. Guillermo Reynaldo Cortez
Dedicated to the captain who established himself as a national hero for his performance in the Air Force in the framework of the 1969 Legitimate Defense War against Honduras. You will also find vestiges belonging to the Naval Force, founded in 1951 by Captain Major César Yanes Urías, another important branch of the Armed Forces.

Room 11 Rulers of El Salvador: Distinguished Military
As a recognition to the former Governors of El Salvador, this room displays personal belongings donated by relatives and remnants of the contributions they left to the country.

Room 12 Papal Vehicle
This car was designed and built by members of the Armed Forces. It was used to transport Pope John Paul II during his visits to our country in 1983 and 1996.

Memorial Square to National Sovereignty
The area is surrounded by green areas and pedestrian paths for the recreation of visitors which communicate in four directions to the main entrances of the museum.

Commemorative Monument to the Salvadoran Heroes of Central American Independence
This site honors the memory of Salvadoran figures who became involved in independence movements. Here lie the remains of General Manuel José Arce, who was the first Federal President of the United Provinces of Central America and founder of the Armed Forces.

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The Military History Museum “Cuartel El Zapote” is an institution of cultural, educational and tourist interest. Although the fighting ended in the early 1990s, Civil War stories and military relics live within this museum, including ancient military uniforms dating back to the 18th century. The museum tells informative stories about El Salvador’s past.

During your visit stop by the showroom, “Bandas de Música Militar.” Admission is free. Visit the museum to learn more about the military history of the Republic of El Salvador. Services include: Guided tours, pet friendly days, symphonic concerts and recreational areas.

July 17 is Pet Friendly Day. The museum welcomes visitors and their pets from 2 pm to 8 pm.

Contact: +503 2280 1635


Mauricio Alexander Cáceres García is a Correspondent for Latina Republic focused on El Salvador and Latin America. He is a renowned and awarded Photojournalist and Documentarian from El Salvador. He has extensive experience reporting on migration, community, travel, tourism and patrimony. His work showcases the power of human stories. Among his specializations, Cáceres has reported on “The migrant route” of the Guatemalan border, Mexico and the United States. Cáceres has a degree in Migration from the Universidad de Centro América, UCA. Cáceres has served as an Editor of the newspaper Más, EDH and elsalvador.com. He has extensive experience in national and international news coverage, studied journalism has won several photography awards throughout Latin America, including second place on a photographic contest centered on the migrant woman, and earning the Santa Clara de Asís prize for his report on the migrant route. He enjoys reporting on El Salvador’s national patrimony, tourism and local culture.