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Colonial Attractions in Cuban Fortresses
Date: MAR 31, 2008
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The Cuban archipelago, one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the Caribbean, benefits from a national scenario rich in history from the Spanish colonial period.

Elements in the country's architecture, customs, traditions and culture are combined to create tourist programs that meet the demands from thousands of vacationers who visit the Caribbean Island every year.

The privileged geographic location of the island nation, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and amid major maritime routes, forced Spanish authorities to build a strong network of fortifications.

Cuba's military development was boosted by the Spanish court's decision to turn the port of Havana into a hub for treasure-laden ships departing from the New World to the metropolis.

Therefore, the Spanish monarchs decided to build a system of fortifications to protect the wealth of the Crown and persuade corsairs and pirates from attacking the island, especially its capital.

One of the most outstanding fortresses from that period is the Castle of the Three Kings of Morro, which was designed by Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli.

It is a Renaissance fortress in the shape of an irregular polygon with three powerful bastions overlooking the bay, the entry to the port and the city. The Morro castle was later complemented by the Fortress of La Cabaña.

The famous city Walls were built in 1740, thus the custom of shooting a cannon before closing the nine gates to Havana, a tradition that has remained until today.

Day after day, at nine pm, the guards at the fortress fired the cannons to warn Havana dwellers that it was time to seek shelter within the walls and avoid traveling in the thick woods surrounding the city.

The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca – also known as Santiago de Cuba's Morro Castle – was built in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the first capital of the country from 1515 to 1607. The fortress had little defensive impact, as its construction lasted several decades.

Considered the oldest architectural work in the central province of Matanzas, the San Severino castle housed the command headquarters of the city's defense system.

The so-called "Trocha de Júcaro a Morón" (Júcaro-Morón Defensive Belt), one of the most important military monuments and the largest Spanish fortification in Cuba and Latin America in the 19th century, was built in the central-eastern region of the Caribbean Island

Its construction in 1871-72 was aimed at cutting the Cuban Liberation Army off in its way to the western part of the country, and preventing the war from spreading to that region.

The 68-kilometer-long belt, the same width of the eastern province of Ciego de Avila, was a singular defensive project consisting of a network of facilities to guarantee the rapid deployment of troops.

The inefficacy of the defensive belt forced Spanish authorities to reinforce it in late 19th century, when the structure had 60 small fortresses, 67 blockhouses, 401 surveillance posts, wire fences, moats guarded by more than 12,000 men and a railroad track to move 26 pieces of artillery.

San Pedro de la Roca. Outside view
La Cabaña Fortress
La Punta Fortress
San Pedro de la Roca. View from the fortress
El Morro`s lighthouse
Cojimar Tower
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    San Pedro de la Roca. Outside view

    Choose a small photo to enlarge:
    San Pedro de la Roca. Outside view La Cabaña Fortress La Punta Fortress San Pedro de la Roca. View from the fortress El Morro`s lighthouse Cojimar Tower La Chorrera Tower "The 12 Apostles" Battery San Pedro de la Roca. Outside view View of the Wall. Fragment San Pedro de la Roca. View from the fortress Barracks in La Cabaña Fortress. San Pedro de la Roca. Outside view San Pedro de la Roca. View from the fortress
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