Robaina's plantation

Sunday 9 April 2017

San Carlos de la Cabaña (Fortress) Havana

            When Cuba came back into the fold of Spanish rule after the brief takeover by the British, it was evident that Spain had to do something to better protect Havana from future invasions. La Cabana fortress was designed by army engineer Silvestre Abarca who had spent the invasion within the city. He occupied much of his time studying what could have been done to prevent this conquest. When the English withdrew in 1763, Silvestre Abarca would embark on the construction of the La Cabana fortress that would be completed by 1774. It would be the largest fortress that the Spanish had built in the Americas to date, they could not swallow another defeat. The lands of La Cabana where the fortress now sits were owned by Agustín de Sotolongo, he donated them free of charge for the construction. The concept of the fortress would be influenced by the new developments in the military arts, hence it's polygonal structure. Tunnels connect it to it's neighboring fortress, el Morro, for communication. It was hoped that the latest addition to their arsenal would make the city impregnable. It was built big enough for the interior to be able to hold a large garrison of soldiers which in 1863 reached 1,300 could have gone as high as 5000. Dungeons were built to house the prisoners who spoke out against Spain. The wall that was built around Havana and finally concluded in 1740 would close it's doors to the sound of the canon shot from La Cabana. The canon is still fired today at 9pm every night as per tradition and is known as “El Canonazo”. In the past a shot would also be fired in the morning to signal the doors opening and drawbridge to be let down. The wall would eventually come down in 1863 due to the expansion of the city.
            Today the castle is well preserved and open to the public for a small fee. Besides the daily canon shot it houses various events throughout the year including the Book Fair and Bienal. You'll find a couple of Paladars close by, one of which was visited by Beyonce and Jay Z when they came to Havana a couple of years ago. It's also the site of the Cigar Shop 'La Triada', who's house roller Jose (Cueto) Castelar, is famous for rolling the Guinness Book of Records longest cigar measuring 90 meters (295 feet). It took 10 days to roll and was dedicated to Fidel Castro for his 90th birthday.

PS...La Cabaña was the headquarters of Che Guevara for the first few months right after the triumph of the revolution in 1959. Although I didn't get a chance to see it, you'll find an exhibit with some of Che's personal belongings and pictures at the house he occupied during that time.

Open: 10am-10pm daily
Admission: CUC 4
Tel. (53) (7) 620617  (53) (7) 637063

Carretera de la Cabana, Habana del  Este
Across the bay from Havana City

Cigar Shop 'La Triada'

Bienal de Habana (Exhibit)

Vendors line the walkways during The Cannon Shot Ceremony


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