Fortress sights in Havana
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On the square’s seaward side is the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest existing fort in the Americas, built between 1558 and 1577 on the site of an earlier fort destroyed by French privateers in 1555. The west tower is crowned by a copy of a famous bronze weather vane called La Giraldilla; the original was cast in Havana in 1632 by Jerónimo Martínez Pinzón and is popularly believed to be of Doña Inés de Bobadilla, the wife of gold explorer Hernando de Soto. It is now kept in the Museo de la Ciudad, and the figure also appears on the Havana Club rum label. Imposing and indomitable, the castle is ringed by an impressive moat and today shelters the Museo de la…
The Castillo del Principe (1767–79) is an irregularly shaped fortress constructed to protect nearby valleys. It is said to contain moats, underground passageways, vaulted galleries, cisterns and all sorts of other intriguing stuff, but today it serves as a police headquarters and is off-limits to tourists.