A ferocious attack by French privateer Jacques de Sores prompted provincial Governor Pedro de Roca y Borja to order its construction in 1553.
The famous Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli constructed the fortress, adapting the building to the sloping terrain.
The Morro, bearing the name San Pedro de la Roca Castle, was finished in 1643 and when ships arrived to the harbor they were saluted with cannon shots fired from the Punta Blanca battery.
Part of the defensive compound of Santiago Bay, it is considered the most complete system of renaissance European military engineering applied in the Caribbean area. The fortress was declared a Heritage of Humanity in 1997.
In 2001 the people of Santiago decided to reinstate the tradition of cannon shots that had been stopped for many years.
Today those shots announce when the national flag is lowered and pay homage to all Cubans who fought for the independence of the greatest island in the Antilles.