Castillo San Salvador de la Punta
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Juan de Tejeda was appointed governor of the island because of his expertise in fortification. He brought along the Italian engineer Giovanni Battista 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. One can see this chain in some of the engravings of that time.
In 1762 the British expedition against Cuba took its toll on all the fortresses. The safety curtains and bastions of La Punta 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 they held at La Punta, including 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