Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña - Filip Šubrt Photo

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Ansel Adams .


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Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, known as La Cabaña (Fort of Saint Charles), is an 18th-century fortress complex. La Cabaña was established during 1763-1774 by King Carlos III of Spain and served as a very powerful defensive structure against terrestrial attacks. It is the third biggest castle in the Americas. It is located in Havana, next to Morro Castle. Since 1982 La Cabaña fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This Fortress  occupies an area of 10 hectares on Havana’s harbor entrance. Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana is 750 meters long. La Cabana garrison had around 1300 men that could be increased to 6000 in the event of war. It also had 120 brass cannons and howitzers of diverse calibres. However, it wasn’t needed as the La Cabaña fortress was never involved in any war. Its grandeur discouraged any attempts at war.

La Cabana fortress is an outstanding example of an eclectic architectural style. Tall lush trees and bushes on the bay side, a deep dry moat around the crown-shaped polygon, and pretty lawns adorn its exterior. The interior consists of barracks, bunkers, huge brass cannons, and fortifications called

The fortress holds the most important ancient weapon collection of the country: a catapult and a mediaeval ariet natural size; the snake shape swords from southern Asia; the Indian katar, the dreadful three blades dagger; the worshipped samurai’s katanas, the Islamic decorated rifles and the complete battery of cannons from the 18th Century made in Sevilla.

In January 1959, Communist rebels led by Fidel Castro seized La Cabaña. The defending Cuban Army offered no resistance and surrendered. Che Guevara used the fortress as a headquarters and military prison for several months.

During his five-month tenure in that post (January 2 through June 12, 1959), Guevara oversaw the revolutionary tribunals and executions of suspected war criminals, political prisoners, traitors, chivatos (informants), and former members of Batista's secret policeBuró de Represión de Actividades Comunistas.

The complex is now part of a historical park, along with El Morro castle. From there, every night a cannon shot rumbles at 9pm as the so-called "El Cañonazo de las 9", a custom kept from colonial times, signaling the closure of the city wall doors.