El Morro Castle
El Morro Castle, locally known as Castillo del Morro, is situated on a promontory at the entrance of the bay of the city of Santiago de Cuba on Cuba. Its full name is Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro. It is not to be confused with the El Morro Castle in Havana.
An earlier fort at this location was built between 1590 and 1610. El Morro Castle was designed, in 1637, by the Italian military engineer Giovanni Battista Antonelli, who also built El Morro Castle and La Punta Castle in Havana, on behalf of the governor of the town, Pedro de la Roca de Borja. Its purpose would be to serve as a defense of the city against pirates.
Construction of the fort began in 1638. Works would continue intermittently for 42 years.
Antonelli had designed a fort adapted to its location; on a 60 meter high promontory with steep sides. So it was constructed on a series of terraces; there were 4 main levels and 3 large bulwarks to house the artillery. Some parts of the earlier fort were incorporated in the new one.
In 1662, while El Morro Castle was being built, a fleet of buccaneers under the English admiral Christopher Myngs, attacked and sacked the town of Santiago de Cuba.
They held it for 2 weeks during which the fort was partly destroyed and its artillery taken. After they departed the Spanish government restored the fort and garrisoned it with 300 men.
In 1675 El Morro Castle was damaged by an earthquake and subsequently restored. In 1678 and in 1680, the still unfinished El Morro Castle fought off 2 attacks from French pirates. In 1692 another earthquake damaged the fort. By 1700 the construction of the fort was finally complete.
Between 1738 and 1740 the fort was enlarged. Final changes to the fort were made after it had been damaged by earthquakes again in 1757 and 1766. By 1775 the threat of pirate attacks had diminished and parts of El Morro Castle were used as a political prison.
The fort regained its military use in 1898 when the United States' fleet attacked Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
At present El Morro Castle is a rather simple museum and can be visited for a small fee. A great fort on a beautiful location, really a must see.