Table of Contents
La Punta Castle and its History
The San Salvador de La Punta Castle, constructed between 1589 and 1630, is together with to the Real Fuerza Castle and El Morro, one of Havana’s three main fortifications. This majestic engineering work rises at the entrance of the city port and was built to be part of the first defensive system of the capital of the island. During its realization much controversy was generated and the extensive and costly construction process was almost interrupted in several times due to economic setbacks and contradictions between Antonelli and the island authorities. Besides, at different times it underwent structural changes. In 1601 one of its four bastions was demolished and from the very first moment of its construction it played a key role in defending the entrance to the bay, along with the Morro Castle. The fortress design belongs to the last decades of the sixteenth century and its main architect was the Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli. La Punta Castle was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982, together with Havana’s historic center and the system of fortifications. Towards the end of the twentieth century this fortress turned into the San Salvador de la La Punta Museum.
La Punta Castle and its Construction
La Punta Castle was built as a part of the first defensive system of Havana. Located at the bay entrance, a place where soldiers would easily spot danger on the coasts and to cross fire if a ship would try to force the port. By King’s order, Tejeda chose Diego Quintanilla as warden of the San Salvador de la Punta Castle and for the construction work which began in 1589, he appointed a quarry foreman, twelve officers, eighteen masons, carpenters, blacksmiths and a smelter metal. The workforce was composed mostly of slaves, soldiers and convicts. For 1593 and Punta she was in fair condition. To the early works of Tejeda and Antonelli some others were added by his successor Lorenzo de Cabreras. On the night of August 29th, 1595 a storm destroyed much of the castle and its reconstruction was commissioned to Cristóbal de Rodas.
La Punta Castle´s architecture
La Punta Castle floor, according to the plans drawn up by Antonelli is trapezoidal. It is a simple construction, unadorned, as it is made of stone. The walls are wide and sloping and are made from carved stone blocks. These walls are 15 feet high, ten to twelve and twenty feet thick embankment. It had three bastions: Antonelli, Quintanilla – that face the earth – and Tejeda, which overlooks the sea. It also had two semi ramparts: San Vicente and San Lorenzo, ending on the reefs. An infrastructure that had allowed it to have accommodations for sixty men , an officers pavilion, kitchen, the captain’s house, water tank, artillery effects store, five pieces, dungeons and a chapel. It also had running water from the Chorrera up inside the fort. After the reconstruction of Cristóbal de Rodas the castle was structured quadrilateral with four bastions at each corner and regular sides. The bastions of San Lorenzo and Tejeda overlook the sea and Antonelli and Quintanilla overlook the land. Canvases or intermediate curtains were about forty yards long. The curtain overlooking the sea between San Lorenzo and Tejeda bastions was attracted towards the earth and the commander’s room, accommodation for sixty men, the chapel and the dungeon were maintained.