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  • Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum

    Real Fuerza Castle Museum, Havana . Cuba

    • Destination: Havana
    • Open: 1,2,3,4,5,6
    • Address From: Calle OReilly and Avenida del Puerto, Old Havana
    • Telephone:
  • Description Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum, Havana . Cuba

    Around 1540 there was a fortress called Fuerza Vieja (Old Forces) in the place later occupied by the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Forces).The old fortress was erected because of the pirates and corsair’s raids that the town began to undergo in the 16th century. The first attack goes back to 1537, when the town was pillaged and burned out. There were many attackers, including Jacques de Sores (1555) and Francis Drake among others, who between the 16th and 17th centuries kept the Spanish authorities in suspense. The so called Fuerza Vieja was located three hundred paces to the northeast of the Real Fuerza, at the entrance of the Tacón Street, near the spot where the Iglesia del Santo Ángel Custodio would be erected in the 17th century. The Fuerza Vieja was destroyed in 1582 due to its decaying state (it stood up to three pirate raids) and scarce strategic value.

    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. The governor Francisco Carreño ordered an upper storey (having portholes) built to keep the gunpowder and weapons in and also to serve as barracks for the garrison and its captain. Actually, once finished, the fortress held just a few men and scarce ammunition.

    Real Fuerza CastlaThis work, like the ones to follow, was made out of limestone coral rock, dug out from the shore. In the construction of the Real Fuerza they followed after the guidelines of the most modern Renaissance ideas. The fortress has underground vaulted storerooms, moats, drawbridge, sloping walls, bastions, etc. It was the safest building of its time. That’s why it was taken as residence by the Spanish governors. The first to inhabit it was Juan de Tejeda. Afterwards, every governor added some changes. For example Francisco Cajigal added a room overhanging the seawards side with a wide balcony. Juan Vitrián de Viamonte, in the first half of the 17th century, had a watchtower crowned with a bronze figurine in the shape of a woman built. This figurine was a copy of the Giralda of the Seville Cathedral and worked as a weather vane.

    It is said that the Giraldilla is a symbol of victory, though over time it has become a symbol of the city. It holds a palm tree in its right arm (only the trunk remains) and in its left arm a staff with the calatrava cross, symbol of the military and knightly order of which Vitrián was a member. The figurine shows a medallion on its chest engraved as follows: ‘Jerónimo Martín Pinzón, artificer, caster and sculptor’. Pinzón was an artist from Havana deceased in 1649. Around 1706 a bell was placed on the tower.

    The Giraldilla (Fuerza Castle)The façade of the fortress was demolished in 1851 to isolate the Templete. In this way O’Reilly Street stretched all the way to the docks.

    Among other functions it was the venue of the National Archive from 1899 and the National library between 1938 and 1957; it also had the offices the National Commission of Monuments and Centre of Preservation, Restoration and Museology after 1959. It was the Museum of Arms, but it had to be replaced due the unfavourable conditions to preserve its patrimonial exhibition.


    In 1977 was declared museum, coinciding with its 400th anniversary. It has offered transitory exhibitions of Cuban contemporary art and collective international expositions of a high level. A new museum project was inaugurated in 1990, and it defined the place as the location of the contemporary artistic ceramics.

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  • Real Fuerza Castle Museum is located in Havana
  • Capital of Cuba and the country's administrative, political, cultural and scientific center, it is also the capital of two provinces: City of Havana and Havana. Though only around 280 square miles (727 square kilometers) in size-0.65 percent of the archipelago's total area.

    The Old Havana and system of forts led UNESCO to declare it a part of world heritage in 1982. Founded on its present site in 1519, the settlement of San Cristobal de La Habana prospered mainly due to its bay, which was a natural port of call for ships sailing to and from the New World. Starting in 1634, because of its strategic location, San Cristobal de La Habana was considered the key to the New World-as attested to by royal letters patent-and the main defense of the West Indies.

    The Cuban capital consists of an immense number of buildings in a wide range of architectural styles, built in the course of nearly five centuries. These styles range from the pre-baroque to the baroque, neo-Gothic, neoclassical, eclectic, art noveau and art-deco, to the modern.

    Alejo Carpentier, one of Cuba's most famous authors, called it "the city of columns" and focused attention on its streets, which he considered a perennially rich show of life, humanity and contrasts that was bound to entertain any observer.

    Over 14 kilometers of excellent beaches lie to the east of the Cuban capital. To the south, a green belt contributes to a healthful atmosphere.

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  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Average
    Montravelguy

    “Might have been interesting... except for the staff! ”
    The Castillo de la Real Fuerza was a bit of a letdown. We went hoping to learn about the Castillo and a bit of the history of the area. It's not expensive (<$5 a person) and it is worth exactly that. The architecture is interesting and there is a lot of history in the rocks... There are some interesting exhibits,... More 

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    Colors68

    “And the history goes on... ”
    It is the first military castle built in Havana to guard the entrance to the bay. Today it is a museum and you can even see some objects found on spanish wrecks just outside Havana bay. The structure still remains like it was in the 1600.

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    Wms3070

    “Great little museum ”
    in an old fort with a moat for only a couple of dollars you see a wide display of maritime and historic artifacts including the story of discovering the sunken treasure. Museum staff are extremely helpful and proud to assist and explain or answer questions.

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    RonWamberal

    “An old fort with a fascinating history ”
    Was more interested in the building than the maritime museum that it houses. So different ot most of the other historical buildings in Havana but when you understand Cuba's history, it is easier to understand the need for such a fort.

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    saprykin

    “Visit if you have time ”
    It is not a must see place if you are short on time. You can walk in the yard without paying a fee. Inside is a naval museum.

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    zwavesNoriko

    “A private guided tour ”
    A guide came up to us and offered us a private tour. We, my friend from Tokyo and I negotiated a price and agreed for a half an hour tour. He started talking about the history of Cuban ships, how Cuban wood was high in demand for the Spanish, English, Holland and the pirates. One by one , room to... More 

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    RobinThom

    “Worth a Visit. ”
    Don_G_Wright gave a good back-ground on the history of the place. The entrance is set back in a wide courtyard lined with cannons. It is accessed by crossing a bridge over a moat featuring an odd display of concrete turtle shells. We were told they are there to symbolize the abundance of turtles in the bay at the time of... More 

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Very good
    Don_G_Wright

    “Display of treasures retrieved from sunken ships ”
    This little fort is complete with a deep and wide water-filed moat, drawbridge entrance, and lookout bell-tower. Built between 1558 and 1577 to protect Havana from pirates and other invaders, it was poorly located and was soon replaced by bigger and better situated forts in the area. It was kept in use as a government residence and a place to... More 

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Excellent
    gandhy2014

    “The oldest fort ”
    This construction is very old and the habaneros are very proud of it because Havana and Santo Domingo have the oldest fortresses in America. I ve been visited the Castle since I was born and I go getting older while the castle have changed only a few (and for better) What a shame! It was erected to substitute the first... More 

  • birdsofafeather1
    Review about Colonial Fortress: Real Fuerza Castle Museum
    Awfull Excellent
    Gensi52

    “Very Interesting ”
    This is an old Spanish fort or Castillo by the bay which houses a maritime museum. We had read good reviews on it so decided to give it a try. The entrance fee was 3 CUCs per person and we were approached by a guide, no price was negotiated but at the end he asked for 4 CUCs each, I... More