Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page
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Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 1997
Size of heritage: 94 ha
- Buffer zone: 152 ha

Longitude: -74,129°
Latitude: 19,967°


Commercial and political rivalries in the Caribbean region in the 17th century resulted in the construction of this massive series of fortifications on a rocky promontory, built to protect the important port of Santiago. This intricate complex of forts, magazines, bastions and batteries is the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles.

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San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba

San Pedro de la Roca Castle, also known as El Morro Castle, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. This magnificent fortress is perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the entrance to Santiago Bay, offering breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea.


The construction of San Pedro de la Roca Castle began in 1638 under the orders of the Spanish Crown, with the aim of protecting the city of Santiago de Cuba from pirate attacks and foreign invasions. The castle was strategically positioned to control the entrance to the bay, making it an essential defensive structure.

Over the centuries, the castle underwent several expansions and modifications to adapt to changing military technologies. Its design, a perfect example of Renaissance military architecture, combines elements of Italian and Spanish fortification styles. The castle's defensive features include thick stone walls, a moat, drawbridges, and a system of bastions and batteries.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle played a crucial role in defending Santiago de Cuba and the Spanish Empire. It successfully repelled numerous attacks from pirates, privateers, and rival European powers. Notably, during the 1762 British invasion of Cuba, the castle withstood a two-month siege before finally surrendering to the British forces.

Current State

Today, San Pedro de la Roca Castle stands as a testament to Cuba's rich history and architectural heritage. It has been meticulously restored and preserved, allowing visitors to experience its grandeur and learn about its historical significance.

The castle complex consists of several buildings, including the main fortress, a lighthouse, a chapel, and various military structures. The main fortress houses a museum that showcases artifacts, weapons, and exhibits related to the castle's history and the maritime heritage of Santiago de Cuba.

Visitors can explore the castle's interior, walk along its ramparts, and enjoy panoramic views of the bay and the surrounding landscape. The lighthouse, still in operation, guides ships entering Santiago Bay, serving as a reminder of the castle's original purpose.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle is not only a historical and architectural gem but also a popular tourist attraction. Its picturesque location, rich history, and stunning views make it a must-visit destination for both locals and international visitors.

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle is protected and managed by the Cuban government. Efforts are continuously made to ensure its preservation and promote its cultural and historical value. San Pedro de la Roca Castle stands as a symbol of Cuba's resilience and its commitment to preserving its heritage for future generations.