One of the important pieces of Havana history is Morro-La Cabaña Historical Military Park, a huge fortress complex. It had important roles to play in Cuba’s colonial history, being the largest defensive complex in the Americas. Today, the fortress is more appreciated for being a visually appealing piece of architecture, it being rather prominent on the Havana skyline along the water. The Morro Castle part was built by 1589 and the La Cabaña was built later, in the 18th century. The complex, along with Old Havana, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are two ways one can get to the site – via ferry or via taxi. I went by taxi solely because I had a taxi that was a motorcycle complete with sidecar! Going by taxi means reaching the complex through the tunnel that goes under the harbour and if you can get a sidecar motorcycle, it is definitely recommended!
The complex is pretty fun to explore and can take several hours, especially if you love military architecture. There are many things in which you can stick your nose and camera – thick walls, deep dry moats, wide streets, rusty cannons, a drawbridge, plazas, various views of Havana (very easy to imagine marauding pirates), little museums which may or may not be open, and a couple of eateries (again, may or may not be open). There are even convenient benches or wide staircases on which you can sit but as for shade…unless the museums and eateries are open, you’re outta luck. So either bring a hat or go later in the afternoon/evening like I did to avoid most of the hot Caribbean sun. At night, there is a cañonazo, a cannon-lighting ceremony.
Nearby to the fortresses, there is the giant statue of Christ. It stands about 15 meters high and was completed in 1958. Made from Italian Carrara marble, the white statue blazes in the bright sun and stands in blessing-mode over the city of Havana. The area around the statue is also great for views onto the city as well as has access to the Casa del Che Museum.
Have you attended the cañonazo? Is it worth staying to see it?
TAKE ME WITH YOU
You can now download all my Havana articles on to your smartphone or tablet with the GPSmyCity app; for a small upgrade fee, you will be able to read them offline as well as get a city map with GPS directions! Pretty neat, eh