The Castillo de la Real Fuerza is one of the most famous examples you can find in Old Havana of Spanish colonial architecture. Started in 1558, it was placed in a very strategic position, exactly where Fortaleza Fuerza Vieja (first Havana fortress) used to be, this means at Plaza de Armas and in front of the harbour.
Apart from being an architectural jewel with huge cannons and cannonballs at the entrance, the inside of this fortress is also spectacular. You’ll see, for example, ancient silver coins, carefully kept as historic and cultural treasure, but also old chests and weapons, among dozens of other exciting items.
Going upstairs you’ll find a ship-scale room, so it will be like a tour around colonial caravels, steamboats and others, a perfect excuse to learn about the progress of this art, and not necessarily just in Cuba but in Latin America and even Europe as well. Anyway, the best thing is yet to come.
At the top of the tower you’ll see a statue of a woman looking to the sea. She is La Giraldilla, Havana’s symbol. Legend says she, Doña Isabel de Bobadilla, was Hernando de Soto’s wife, seventh Spanish governor in Cuba, who was sent in 1539 by royal order in an expedition to Florida. Isabel spent hours and hours, day after day and month after month, looking to the sea, waiting for a ship bringing his husband back, and even when Hernando was murdered by the Mississippi River one year later, she kept waiting, at the top of the Fuerza Vieja fortress, during all her life. Since then, she turned into an eternal symbol.
Summarizing: colonial architecture, ancient treasures, history and culture in a same place. Sounds nice, huh?
On Sundays just until midday.
Javier Roque Martínez