Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta

Museum / Cultural center
Architectural style: Renaissance
CA Ranking: 3
Open: 10am-6pm Wed-Sun
Admission: CUC 5; free under-12s
Avenida del Puerto y Paseo de Martí (Prado)
  • Given its strategic location on one side of the harbor mouth, this fortress was one of the two most important defensive constructions in Havana’s defense system in colonial times. Construction works took place from 1590 to 1630, approximately. Along with Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro and Castillo de la Real Fuerza, it is one of the three fortresses that appear on coat of arms of the Havana.

    It was designed by Giovanni Baptista Antonelli, who also designed the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (see p…) on the opposite side of the harbour mouth. It was commissioned by Captain General Juan de Texeda, whose name can still be seen cut into a stone in the bulwark to the right of the entrance. Every night for centuries a 250-metre chain boom used to be raised between the two castles to keep out marauding shipping, and the chain’s terminal on the Punta side, three massive upended cannons, can still be seen. The British invasion in the mid 1700s seriously damaged the fort – walk around to the Morro side to see a British cannonball still embedded in the wall. (If the guards make a fuss, ask to see Echeverría the director; he’ll probably escort you and give you a fascinating lecture in English on Havana’s fortifications.) Despite the damage, it was still used for defence in the 19th century. By the time the 20th century came around it was anything but a protective bastion, and at one point was even used as a cow barn.

    After extensive restoration, it reopened as a museum in 2002. This effort raised the fortress of San Salvador de la Punta to its original height by clearing out its moat, and unearthed relics spanning five centuries. Initially, La Punta housed some of these artifacts, plus a ship gallery with models of historic vessels and a unique collection of riches – gold bars, emeralds, pieces of eight and treasure boxes – from 16th- to 19th-century treasure galleons which sank off the Cuban coast. But the area’s susceptibility to both the threat and reality of flooding caused by hurricanes, and the resulting necessity to evacuate all the displays, has led to the decision to move these exhibits elsewhere (and to use La Punta as a site museum, with displays from the fortress itself.

    Now there are three exhibition rooms displaying a permanent collection about the history of the fortress, its construction, naval modeling and underwater archeology. On the second floor one can still see the urinal and toilet for troops, both interconnected to the drainage sluice from the main square, an impressive step on the road to modern plumbing.

  • Basílica Menor y Convento de San Francisco de Asís

    Basílica Menor y Convento de San Francisco de Asís  LH 5+

    History & Architecture Initiated in its present form in 1716, this religious edifice was the most important symbol of the presence of the Franciscan order in Havana. It is a remake of an original, …

    Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

    Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro  LH 5+

    Designed by Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli and built by slaves with rocks extracted from the moats in the last decades of the 16th century, the Morro Castle to defend the town of San Cristob …

    Museo de la Revolución

    Museo de la Revolución  LH 5

    History & architecture In 1909, Governor General Aubert decided to build a new venue for the Provincial Government where the old city wall used to be. The design was by architects Rodolfo Marurí ( …

    El Patio (Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras)

    El Patio (Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras)  LH 5

    Located on the north-west corner of the former Plaza de la Ciénaga, today Plaza de la Catedral, this mansion stands out from its neighbors due to its wide and spacious portal juts out onto the plaza, …

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Edificio de Arte Internacional

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Edificio de Arte Internacional  LH 5

    The International collection (Edificio de Arte Internacional) In 2001, after the new venues were chosen for the National Museum of Fine Arts, the international collection was installed in the former C …

    Maqueta de La Habana

    Maqueta de La Habana  LH 5+

    This scale model of Havana is the third largest scale model in the world. It was built at a scale of 1:1000 and spans over 144 square meters. It is approximately 22 meters long and 10 meters wide and …

    Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

    Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña  LH 5+

    Constructed after the capture of Havana by British forces and named San Carlos de la Cabaña in honor of King Carlos III, this 700-meter long fortress is the largest in the Americas. It was designed by …

    El Chanchullero

    El Chanchullero  LH 5+

    El Chanchullero has got to win the most surprisingly good place in Havana award. This looks like a hole in the wall place in a downright run down looking part of Old Havana. It is a hassle to get to b …

    Tren de Hershey

    Tren de Hershey  LH 5+

    In 1926, Pennsylvania based Hershey Corporation built a 135-km-long electric railroad network in Cuba to transport product and personnel from Havana to Hershey’s sugar factory 45 km east of the capita …

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)  LH 5+

    Along the banks of the Almendares River is Parque Almendares, also known as Bpsque de La Haband (Havana’s Forest). This is the only urban forest in the city and is a recreational area for Habaneros th …

    1 of 22 pages »