|1997||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Iain Jackson (Scotland UK):
This site, known locally as El Morro, was easily reached from Santiago de Cuba at the time of my visit in February 2001. A local bus will take you to Ciudamar, a settlement on the southern shore of the almost enclosed bay with Santiago at its head, and from there it is possible to catch one of the little launches which shuttle between various points on the bay. I went first to La Socapa, a small village at the foot of the hill, from the easily reached top of which, excellent views of the castle across the narrow(400m?) entrance to the harbour, and indeed for miles along the coast in both directions, can be had.
I was surprised not to find any evidence of fortification on this side of the harbour entrance.
Once back in Ciudamar it's a walk of about 20 minutes to the foot of the hill on which the castle itself is located. It has grown over several different levels, the lowest being a little above the high water line with some of the rooms carved out of the soft rock.
At a higher level the castle is protected by a deep moat and bastions at every change in direction of the castle's hefty wall.The various levels are connected by staircases and by a series of tunnels which is fun to explore
Some of the castle rooms are now used as a museum illustrating local building techniques and telling the story of piracy in the region. There was also a restaurant.
I was able to wander hassle-free at will throughout this very impressive example of (mostly) Spanish military architecture in a Caribbean setting. All in all a very rewarding day's excursion from Cuba's second city.
Date posted: January 2011
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