The Castle of the three magician kings

Il Castello dei Tre Re Magi del Morro
The Castle of the three magician kings in el Morro is one of the most outstanding military buildings in Havana.

The Morro´s Three Magicians Kings Castle, a must-see in Cuba.

On vacation in Cuba, you should not miss the opportunity to visit The Morro´s Three Magicians Kings Castle, one of the most outstanding and distinguished military constructions in Havana, capital of Cuba.

It is another of the symbols of the city along with the Capitol and the Giraldilla. What can you find there? Follow us and you will discover it.

The Morro´s Three Magicians Kings Castle

The origin of the name of this castle is due in the first place to evoke the three wise men and also due to the portion of land where it is located, a high, rocky, steep, isolated site and on the seashore.

Its name was indicated by King Felipe II, who in a royal decree dated December 10, 1588, clarified what this fort should be called, and that of San Salvador de la Punta.

Years later, in another document it appears that in the spring of 1614 the chapel of the castle was finished and on its altar it had an altarpiece of the adoration of the Kings, which was the vocation of the castle.

Its construction began at the same time as that of the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta, both guarding the entrance to the bay of Havana, before the continuous attack of corsairs and pirates.

The construction of the castle lasted until well into the 17th century due to dissimilar economic difficulties and the contradictions that arose between the island’s governors and the architect Antonelli.

Who was the author of this representative work of Havana?

It was designed by the engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli in 1585. The fortification represents an irregular polygon that conforms to the shape of the rock on which it stands harmoniously.

This castle symbolizes the classic 16th century bastioned permanent fortification, the defense of the city against the attack of corsairs and pirates. In many parts it is inaccessible, over 60 feet high, and made of rough rock.

El Morro lighthouse

The Morro lighthouse is perhaps its most distinctive element. Due to its history, height and current utility, it is another of the symbols of Havana and appears in sourvenirs that you can take back with you as postage stamps, commemorative medals, lithographs and labels on the boxes of the famous Cuban cigars. It is one of the landscapes that identify Cuba.

It emits flashes every fifteen seconds, with a power of 200 thousand spark plugs. It stands 45 meters above sea level and its lights can be seen 18 nautical miles away.

El Morro is projected towards the sea with an acute angle, there the tower with the lighthouse rises. The original 10 meter high tower was replaced in 1844-1845 by the 5 meter diameter and 30 meter high tower that can be seen today.

It has been used as a lighthouse since 1764, but in 1844 the old tower was demolished to build the one that still stands today, electrified in 1945.

There have been several projects to illuminate the lighthouse since 1816. The American chemist Gabriel Pendergrast was one of the pioneers, he suggested mounting twelve reflectors capable of offering illumination equivalent to 150 tallow candles.

But the definitive project was by the French engineer Agustín Fresnell, a man who revolutionized maritime lighting in the 19th century. For this he used stepped lenses, a rotating machine and an octagonal prismatic central lantern.

About the architecture of the palace of the Three Kings of Morro

The fortress projects into the waters at an acute angle and from there successive curtains are staggered and open reaching the rear side, which communicates with the ground and is protected by two bastions and a moat.

The ground front has a curtain and two asymmetrical bastions of 213, 28 meters. By the entrance channel to the port of Havana there is another curtain in which two half asymmetric bastions are attached and some 227, 96 meter broken walls.

Along the coast there is a platform and another series of irregular walls that close the building of 223, 25 meters. On its three sides it has about 664, 50 meters. It has interior areas that interconnect with each other with adequate access and communication paths.

To the northeast stands the half bulwark of Tejeda and to the southeast is the bulwark of Austria. As part of the external defense that accompanies the front we can find: the moat, the counterscarp, the covered path and the glasis.

The sea front that is located to the south of the canal of the port is formed by a curtain with the main entrance of the fort to the center. On the right is a face of the Bastion of Austria and on the left is the bastion of Santiago.

Why visit it?

We recommend you visit The Morro´s Three Magicians Kings Castle in Havana for being an emblematic site of the city. You should also know that it is the oldest fortification built by the Spanish in America and that it appears as a symbol of Cuba and its capital in many marketable objects.

The Morro´s Three Magicians Kings Castle today

You will wonder if you will only find history within its walls. The truth is that the castle of the three wise men is much more. Today it has an intense cultural and tourist life.

The view of the Havana coastline is one of its treasures. In addition, its lounges function as museums and includes the popular Los Doce Apóstoles and La Divina Pastora restaurants.

You can also have a few drinks at the bar El Polvorín, set in the 18th century style.

How do you get to El Morro from Havana?

Very simple, it is reached by crossing the sea. The most usual way is to cross the bay tunnel, one of the architectural wonders of the largest of the Antilles.

While visiting Cuba, be sure to visit it, it is a unique experience to combine past and present between walls that keep history and give a new cultural panorama, to suit all tastes.

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