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Punta Lucrecia: A Safe Guide for Sailors
Date: JUL 02, 2001
Other Reports

Cuba, strategically located in the Caribbean, complements its tourist offer of sun and beaches with elements that are essential to guarantee a safe crossing to those who bet on maritime routes in their eagerness to visit the largest Antillean island.

In areas that are dangerous for navigation, specialized buildings, many of which have a centenarian history, serve as safe guides to ships sailing in Cuban waters.

One of these buildings is located Holguín Province, more exactly in Punta Lucrecia. Its construction started as early as February 1858, in the eastern end of Playa Larga, between the Port of Naranjo and the Bay of Nipe.

According to experts of the time, the need to build this lighthouse was justified by the fact that the region was characterized by shallow waters and coral reefs that made the area almost non-accessible, even for small vessels.

The first stone was laid in November 1861, coinciding with the appointment of Francisco Serrano Domínguez, Count of San Antonio, as Cuba's new governor; that was why, the lighthouse was called "Serrano".

However, a Royal Order has preserved the name Punta Lucrecia until today, since at the time, the practice of naming buildings after politicians was regarded as a sentiment of adulation rather than merits.

Due to the difficult access to the construction site and the lack of labor force, authorities decided to use brigades of prisoners to do the work, thus the first 40 inmates arrived there in 1860, from prisons in the Oriente Province.

A 168-step spiral staircase, 33 steps of which were made of limestone, while the remaining 135 steps were made of cast iron, leads to the light chamber, where modern technology creates a beam of light that can be seen 42 miles away, more than twice its original design (17 miles).

Man's intelligence met all construction challenges, since water was nine kilometers away, wood was ten kilometers away and iron and tools were brought from the towns of Gibara and Holguín.

History's paradoxes linked the lighthouse to the Cuban War for Independence, since its date of inauguration - October 10, 1868 - coincides with the armed upraising led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, regarded in Cuba as the Father of the Homeland.

War reached this far-away region. The Liberation Army attacked the lighthouse in December 1868, destroying the light equipment to deprive the Spanish Navy from its navigation facility.

Those eager to visit this centenarian building will enjoy vestiges of its construction, such as the remains of limekilns and ashlars abandoned in the quarries.

Inside the building, a patio surrounded by an indoor portico has a cistern imitating the curb of a well, and gives access to the housing section and a very interesting room, where documents, photos and objects related to this building are carefully kept.

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