The Nine o'clock Cannon shot, a punctual ceremony
By Alina Veranes
Tradition has it that since the last quarter of the 18th century, the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, the largest in the San Cristóbal de La Habana military defense system, began signaling with a cannon shot the time set for the closing of the walls that gave access and exit by land to the city.
The appointed time was nine o'clock at night and the thunderous warning was made from a battery located in the aforementioned institution, with the discipline and rigors of a task of this kind, destined to keep order and give protection to a prosperous city. that was already envisioned as the capital of the so-called Key to the Americas, coveted by corsairs and pirates and governments of other colonialist nations.
Many years later, having lost its primary objective due to the inevitable passage of time, however, the unique cannon shot at nine o'clock is still heard in the most important city in Cuba, punctually, at the same time as always, now as a beautiful custom. , endowed with a picturesque ceremonial that honors the foundations of Havana.
The current residents of the Cuban capital attest to the great acoustic or sound potential of today's cannon shot, with characteristics similar to the old one. It can be heard perfectly in very remote corners and continues to correct the time or alert the unsuspecting of the passage of time. It is something that the inhabitants of the capital have never wanted to give up, despite the fact that the thick walls that justified the notice began to be demolished on August 8, 1863, due to the rapid growth of the town.
They say that only for a short time the trusty cannon shot was not fired. On June 24, 1942, a part of the Army General Staff recorded the suspension of the traditional shot in order not to alert the enemies in the course of World War II. Believe it or not, that was announced.
The custom was resumed on December 1, 1945 with great demonstrations of citizen joy. Today a platoon of artillery cadets dressed in colonial style and with an 18th century piece, fire the inevitable nine o'clock cannon shot every day, a spectacle that is well worth seeing and is witnessed every night by city dwellers and tourists.