- Av Moncada
- museum admission CUC$2
- museum 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 9am-1pm Sun
Lonely Planet review for Cuartel Moncada
Santiago's famous Moncada Barracks is named after Guillermón Moncada, a War of Independence fighter who was held prisoner here in 1874, though these days the name is more synonymous with one of history's greatest failed putsches.
The first barracks on this site was constructed by the Spanish in 1859, and in 1938 the present crenellated building was completed. Moncada earned immortality on the morning of July 26, 1953, when more than 100 revolutionaries led by then little known Fidel Castro stormed Batista's troops at what was then Cuba's second-most important military garrison.
After the Revolution, the barracks, like all others in Cuba, was converted into a school called Ciudad Escolar 26 de Julio, and in 1967 a museum was installed near gate 3, where the main attack took place. As Batista's soldiers had cemented over the original bullet holes from the attack, the Castro government remade them (this time without guns) years later as a poignant reminder. The museum contains a scale model of the barracks plus interesting and sometimes grisly artifacts of the attack, its planning and its aftermath. It's one of Cuba's best.