Real Fuerza Castle: the Oldest in Cuba

A real example of the system of Spanish colonial fortifications in Cuba and the Caribbean, the Real Fuerza Castle in Havana, present National Museum of Contemporary Ceramics is the oldest fortress in the island.

Its construction began in December 1st, 1558 The basement of the castle is a square divided in nine identical parts that join other four regular bastions. It is surrounded by a grave limited by a perimeter wall. Its perfect symmetry reminds the Italian and French renaissance constructions of the 16th century; although the volumes of the architectural mass and its isolation put it closer to the medieval tradition.

The construction to wide the first floor with the chambers of the governors began in 1588, and another floor was added in 1630 to the tower in the angle of the south east base. There, was placed as weather vane, a sculpture made of bronze and created by Jerónimo Martínez Pinzón, La Giraldilla. It is the oldest of the sculptural pieces known in Cuba and it is the symbol of Havana.

This fine woman figure represents Doña Inés de Bobadilla, considered the first woman Governor of the Island. Beside that, it was the residence of the General Captains of Cuba, the Real Fuerza Castle was the deposit of the gold, the silver and other goods going to Spain. Among other functions it was the venue of the National Archive from 1899 and the National library between 1938 and 1957; it also had the offices the National Commission of Monuments and Centre of Preservation, Restoration and Museology after 1959. It was the Museum of Arms, but it had to be replaced due the unfavourable conditions to preserve its patrimonial exhibition.

In 1977 was declared museum, coinciding with its 400th anniversary. It has offered transitory exhibitions of Cuban contemporary art and collective international expositions of a high level. A new museum project was inaugurated in 1990, and it defined the place as the location of the contemporary artistic ceramics.

Address: O'Relly and Avenida del Puerto, Old Havana.
Open: Mondays through Saturdays 9:00 18:30. Entrante fee: $1.00 CUC