Castillo San Salvador de la Punta
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La Punta, just like El Morro was designed to protect the entrance to the Havana Bay that became an important and strategic entranceway to the harbor since the settlement of the town. The nonstop landings of corsairs in the area endangered the harbor and the town. That was why in 1559 it was resolved to post lookouts at La Punta.
To fulfill the task Juan de Tejeda was appointed governor of the island, because of his expertise in the matter of fortifications. He brought along the Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli, who has been considered the most renowned professional to practice in 16th century Cuba. The works began by 1590 and went on slowly. In 1595 a hurricane severely damaged the fortress, among other reasons, due to the thinness of its walls that were then more solidly rebuilt. By 1602 there was such a delay in the construction work that the engineer decided to make the fortress into a keep holding some 10 to 12 artillery pieces. Finally, as the years went by it was taken apart, leaving just 3 bastions.
In 1630, due to the short distance between La Punta and El Morro and to increase the protection of the bay, a heavy copper chain was laid between them. This chain can be appreciated in some of the engravings of that time.
In 1762 as a consequence of the fighting during the British expedition against Cuba, the English superiority took its toll on all the fortresses. The safety curtains and bastions of La Punta castle were destroyed during the invasion. At this time a chain branching out in several directions and held by heavy wood beams was laid. Its ends were tied to guns set-in at La Punta and El Morro. Some fragments of this piece still remain.
Later on, with the Spanish back in power, a new governor arrived, fixing and enlarging the fortification system. In the 19th century some changes, such as the 4 esplanades built to accommodate a corresponding number of artillery pieces, were added at La Punta.
In 1851 the Spanish executed most of the prisoners of La Punta included Venezuelan adventurer Narciso López after a failed attempt to liberate Cuba that caused outrage in the United States.
The castle, in 1997, was under an intense work of restoration, (by the City’s Historian Office), that gave it its original position on the rocks. Thanks to this work canons that were engraved in the rocks. The park that surrounds it, paved with striking red ceramic tiles, is a memento of the San Antonio, a Spanish ship foundered in front of the castle with a heavy load. Some of the cargo was recovered from the flotsam and now gives the area just outside the building a special and highly distinctive character.
Media related to Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta at Wikimedia Commons