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Castillo San Pedro de la Roca | Travel Series S1:E7

FE Active is more than just a camping gear company. We're proud to be a company run by travelers, adventurers, and people "living the lifestyle" we promote through our products. One such employee had the opportunity to backpack across Cuba in early 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic, and in this Cuban blog series, will recount the adventures experienced along this amazing journey.

"Connecting with history is a must (for us) when we travel. Not only does it give you some perspective of the area, but also rewards you with greater life knowledge".

Located outside of the city centre of Santiago du Cuba is Castillo San Pedro de la Roca. This old Spanish fort is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (incorporated in 1997), and a place that everyone should visit when in the area.

The History

Built in the 17th century, Castillo San Pedro de la Roca (or Morro castle as it's also known) is the most complete and best preserved example of Spanish-American architecture based on the Italian and Renaissance design principals found in the New World.

The fort is perched along the top of the cliff at the mouth of Santiago Harbor. From here, Guards could look up and down the coast while having views of the protected city further down the harbor channel.

Photo Courtesy of "Destination Earth" Instagram @destination_earth_official

The castle itself is a multi-level stone fortress. Completed in 1638, the fort was built to combat aggressive commercial and political rivalries within the Caribbean at the time, including against Spain's most constant rival - the British. In addition to the British, the Spanish were warry of pirates in the area, as they were less predictable, and to a degree, a credible threat.

Cannons were lined on all sides of the fort to create a structure protected 360 degrees around. Whether evaders were coming from the water to the south, or the forest to the east, this fort had it covered. The multi-layer design allowed for a wealth of options when it came to defending the fort and the area, by being able to deploy only what was needed.

The Action

Unlike many forts in the new world, Castillo San Pedro de la Roca did see some action. In 1678, it repelled an attack from another rival - the French. In 1680 the threat of pirates became real as they were attacked, but withstood this (perhaps) less lethal attempt for control.

Photo Courtesy of "Destination Earth" Instagram @destination_earth_official

Between 1675-92 and again between 1757-66 the area and the fort were battered by a series of earthquakes that shook the area. After this, the fort underwent a series of major repairs to bring it back to acceptable operating standards.

By the late 1700's, the threat of attack subsided, but over 100 years later, the fort was put back into action in 1898 when the United States of America attacked Cuba, and specifically Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American war. The powerful America Navy came through and conquered the area, driving our the Spanish and taking control of the island.

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