La Real Fuerza Castle
La Real Fuerza Castle, locally known as Castillo de la Real Fuerza, is situated in the center of the city of Havana in Cuba.
La Real Fuerza Castle is Cuba's oldest building and the 2nd oldest fort in the New World.
In 1555, Havana was ransacked after an attack by buccaneers led by the Frenchman Jacques de Sores. A predecessor of the present fort, which was located a little bit more to the north, was severely damaged during that attack and was dismantled afterwards. The Spanish King, Philip II, then ordered a new fort to be built. This was to become La Real Fuerza Castle. Construction started in 1558 by Bartolomé Sánchez, during the government of Diego de Mazariegos.
As Cuba did not provide sufficient resources to pay for the construction of the fort, the Spanish King ordered that Mexico had to pay for it. The residents of Havana benefited from this influx of money because the government rented their slaves as laborers and bought construction materials. Besides slaves also homeless blacks, mestizos and mulattoes, were put to work on the fort under threat of a fine of 10 dollars or 100 whip lashes. Even 14 captured French buccaneers were put to work.
The fort was finished 20 years later by Francisco de Calona during the government of Francisco de Carreño. At that time it was the safest building in Havana and thus used as a residence by captains, generals and governors.
In 1761 it was described as a rectangular fort with 4 bastions, small but strong due to its thick high walls. On one of the bastions stands a small turret which was used as a bell tower. Earlier it was also used for communication, through light signals, with San Carlos de la Cabaña Castle on the opposite shore of the harbour.
In 1854, the Marquess de La Pezuela suggested to demolish the castle because it had lost its military functions and was seen as an obstacle for the city's commercial activities at the waterfront.
This didn't happen and in the following 150 years it was used subsequently as barracks, offices, library and a museum.
At present La Real Fuerza Castle is used as a museum and can be visited for a small fee.
This is a nice small fort.