Royal Force Castle

  • The Castillo de la Real Fuerza (English Castle of the Royal Force) is a star fort on the western side of the harbor in Havana, Cuba, set back from the entrance, and bordering the Plaza de Armas.
  • Originally built to defend against attack by pirates, it suffered from a poor strategic position, being too far inside the bay.
  • The fort is considered to be the oldest stone fort in the Americas, and was listed in 1982 as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of "Old Havana and its Fortifications".
  • In 1558 Bartolomé Sánchez, an engineer appointed by King Philip II of Spain began work on the new fort, initially known as the Fuerza Nueva (New Force).
  • The Fuerza Vieja was set back from the harbor, but the new fort was planned to be closer to the harbor to give it a better strategic position. The ironworks were established in 1558, but the first stones were not laid until 1562.
  • Construction was delayed due to complaints from local residents forced to relocate to make way for the building and from disagreements between Sánchez and the Governor of Havana.
  • The fort was not completed until 1577, with slaves and French prisoners providing most of the labor.
  • Built of limestone quarried from the Havana shoreline, the fortification incorporated thick sloping walls, a moat, and drawbridge.
  • The governor, Francisco Carreño, ordered the addition an upper storey as barracks and a munitions store, but on completion, the fort proved to be too small for practical use.

 

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