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Real Fuerza Castle Museum Architecture, Havana . Cuba

  • Calle OReilly and Avenida del Puerto, Old Havana
  • Destination: Havana
  • Open: 1,2,3,4,5,6
  • Telephone:
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A previous fortress, the Fuerza Vieja (Old Force), was badly damaged in 1555 during an attack on Havana by the French privateer Jacques de Sores and eventually was demolished in 1582. In 1558 Bartolomé Sánchez, an engineer appointed by King Philip II of Spain, began work on the new fortress, initially known as the Fuerza Nueva (New Force). The Fuerza Vieja was set back from the harbour, but the new fortress was planned to be closer to the harbour to give it a better strategic position. The ironworks were established in 1558, but the first stones were not laid until 1562. Construction was delayed due to complaints from local residents forced to relocate to make way for the building and from disagreements between Sánchez and the Governor of Havana. The fortress was not completed until 1577, with slaves and French prisoners providing most of the labour. Built of limestone quarried from the Havana shoreline, the fortification incorporated thick sloping walls, a moat and drawbridge. The governor, Francisco Carreño, ordered the addition an upper storey as barracks and a munitions store, but on completion, the fortress proved to be too small for practical use.La Giradilla on the watchtower (inset: The original, which is now held in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)A view of the watchtower from the outside

Despite being positioned closer to the harbour than the Fuerza Vieja, it quickly became apparent that the new fortress was still too distant from the mouth of the harbour to serve effectively as a defensive bulwark, so was instead adopted by Juan de Tejeda as the residence of the Governor of Havana. Subsequent governors made changes to the building, and in 1634, Juan Vitrián de Viamonte added a watchtower with a weathervane sculpted in the form of a woman, by Gerónimo Martín Pinzón, an artist from Havana, and based on the figure crowning La Giralda in Seville. Although the reason for the choice of this figure, called La Giraldilla, is not known, a common suggestion is to honour Inés de Bobadilla, Havana's only female governor, who assumed control from her husband Hernando de Soto when he undertook an expedition to Florida. She spent many years scanning the horizon for signs of his returning ship (unbeknown to her, he had died). The figure became the symbol of the city of Havana (it features on the Havana Club rum label), and is now held at the City Museum housed in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales in the Plaza de Armas, while a copy is in place on the watchtower. The façade of the fortress was demolished in 1851 to allow O’Reilly Street to go all the way to the docks, and prevent El Templete, completed in 1828, from being overshadowed by the fortress. 

Mapa de Real Fuerza Castle Museum

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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