Fortresses

San Salvador de la Punta Castle

La Punta just like El Morro was designed to protect the entrance to the Havana Bay that became an important and strategic entranceway to the harbor since the settlement of the town.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force)

The authorities of the island took steps in order to have a new fortress. In 1558 arrived in Havana the engineer Bartolomé Sánchez, appointed by the king Felipe II. The construction of the fort was delayed because of disagreements among the governor, the neighbors whose lots were expropriated for the works and the engineer himself. The arrival of a new master builder on the same year had a sorry ending. It wasn’t until 1577 that the Real Fuerza was finished, thanks to the work of black slaves and Mexican money.

Fortaleza El Príncipe (The Prince Fortress)

After the siege and occupation of Havana by the English, from 1762 to 1763, a careful consideration of the weak points that led to the Spanish defeat began. In order to protect the fortresses and the troops that should fight in case of an enemy landing, a new fortification was built on the Aróstegui Hill, named after its former owner Agustín Aróstegui y Loynaz.

Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro (Morro Castle)

From the 16th century on, the advantages of the natural rocky elevation that lay by the bay’s entrance, called El Morro, became evident. At the beginning two lookouts were posted in this place to watch over the area. They had a slate roofed hut. In 1563, the authorities built a stone and mortar watchtower. The arrival of Tejeda and Antonelli gave El Morro a new importance. Alongside Antonelli worked his nephew Cristóbal de Roda as the engineer’s assistant. He takes the credit for drawing the first layout of Havana in 1603. In December 1588 the king appointed a keeper in charge of the fortress that was to be called ‘de los Tres Reyes’ (‘of the Three Kings’).

Cojímar Fortress

Successive surveys to the city left multiple advices on what were regarded as weak points. In 1633 the agent of the governor at the Cortes (Parliament), Simón Fernández Leyton, saw the convenience of building the fortress at Cojímar

Santa Dorotea de Luna de La Chorrera (Chorrera Fortress)

If the 16th century had La Real Fuerza as an invulnerable shield in its military conception, and the 17th century had La Punta and El Morro as the acme of the first defensive stage, new works would be added to these three great pillars.

Torreon de San Lazaro (San Lazaro Turret)

The creek next to the town, where the turret was erected was known at first by the name of the lot’s owner Juan Guillén. Afterwards during the 18th century a hospital called San Lázaro was built near the creek which took on the same name.

Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña (The Hut Fortress)

Restablished the Hispanic dominance in Havana, one of the first dispositions of the king Carlos III, with regard to the protection of the city, was the construction of a colossal fortification, the largest erected until then, in America, on “La Cabaña’s” hill. The project, undertaken by Silvestre Abarca, with plans by two French engineers, was finished in eleven years, between 1763-1774. Simultaneously, " El Príncipe” and “ Atarés” Castles.

Fortresses

Since the 16th century pirates and corsairs raided the Caribbean Sea. The geography of the island, with plenty of keys and islets, was a favorable environment for such activities. These raids stemmed from the tight control that the Spanish tried to exert, at the time, over the commerce of its American colonies, effectively denying other countries the possibility to trade.