Continuing eastwards, nearly as far as Guantanamo, my next stop was Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second city and the place where Fidel Castro proclaimed the revolutionaries’ victory in 1959.
Santiago was founded in the early 16th century and became an important port for Spanish activities in the Caribbean. The San Pedro de Roca Castle was built in various stages in the seventeenth century to protect the port from English pirate attack and is described by UNESCO as “the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles”. It was designed by a famous father and son team of military engineers from Milan.
The site is a steep point of land sticking out into the sea at the entrance to the harbour. The castle stretches from the cliff top all the way down to the sea in a series of terraces. At the top it is protected against attack from land by a moat and drawbridges but it and the associated batteries nearby were there to serve as locations for anti-ship artillery.
Apart from affording me the opportunity for a little Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy, I really liked the castle’s multi-level layout. The courtyard of the citadel, the highest part of the castle where the garrison was housed, is a riot of staircases going up to roofs and doorways and down to lower levels.
The best way to get an overview of the castle would be to hover over the sea, but as I failed to pack my flying carpet you’ll have to make do with this terrible photo of a model of the castle in which I failed to include the bits down at sea level.
And here is my very free interpretation in Lego: