Castillo De La Real Fuerza

The mystery hidden within its walls, secrets left untold until modern times, and its title as one of the oldest star forts in the Americas make Castillo de la Real Fuerza a must-see stop on your tour of Havana, Cuba. You'll love making your way through the paths to the centre of the fortress, which was originally built for keeping watch for invaders. At more than 400 years old, you'll have plenty to talk about when you return home after visiting this astonishing site and its impressive layout.

Upon arriving at Havana's Castillo de la Real Fuerza, one cannot help but marvel at the beauty and ingenuity of its construction. Considered to be one of the oldest forts in the Americas that is still standing, this star fort is located on the west side of the harbour and was originally meant to serve as a lookout and line of defence against invasion from pirates and ill-faring outsiders. Unfortunately, the fort was still not far out enough to provide any real protection against intruders due to the lack of technology and weather conditions that made it difficult to see what was coming until it was much too late. Regardless of this, Castillo de la Real Fuerza is still a history-rich fort with interesting architecture and sprawling grounds.

Intriguing and enduring fortress

The fort was constructed using mined minerals, and was predominantly made using limestone, which has stood up well to the elements over the past four centuries. It also features many intriguing features that many European fortresses utilised as a means of security such as drawbridges, a moat, and impenetrable walls. The design may have been attributed in part to the fort being manufactured by French prisoners who laboured over the Castillo for almost twenty years before it was fully completed.

Museum for maritime lovers

Those who are always intent on visiting museums during their travels and love nautical history will appreciate the recent addition of a maritime museum within the walls of Castillo de la Real Fuerza. There have been many offices and official libraries held within the fort prior to the millennium with the newest collection coming in 2010 with maritime artefacts and exhibits that include a large model of the Santisima Trinidad ship, which was built to scale in addition to a tribute to the Royal Shipyard of Havana, and an observation deck for enjoying spectacular views of Havana and the water.

Along the watchtower

One of the most talked about attractions within the walls of Castillo de la Real Fuerza is its infamous Watchtower, or Mirador de la Torre, which is situated in the west wing of the fort. The tower was not added to this massive installation until 1634 and is crowned with a bronze weathervane, La Giraldilla: a figurine sculpted to resemble the figure of Inés de Bobadilla who inherited her husband's post as Governor when he became lost at sea after setting sail for Florida. There is a haunting tale related to La Giraldilla and its imagery of a woman's figure perpetually scanning the ocean in search of her lover. However, the original weathervane has since been removed with a replica standing in its place. The original is kept in on display at the Museo de la Ciudad inside the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.

If you're interested in touring the massive Castillo de la Real Fuerza, there are many tours and group showings of the star fort with multilingual guides. You can also enter on your own and drop in at any of the approved visiting areas on your own time. Whether you opt for joining a tour group or walking around its multiple layers and levels on your own, this is a fort in Havana that simply must be visited in order to absorb some of the rich culture and history of the area.

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Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro

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