The old cannons of Havana

The old cannons of Havana

Heritage & Traditions

By Nina Pereira

Among the historical curiosities that abound in Havana are the memories of the old cannons that defended the city in colonial times.

The constant attacks by corsairs and pirates and then the taking of Havana by the English, led to the construction of several protection and defense works, towers and batteries.

According to historians, when the British took the city on August 14, 1762, they found 104 cannons in the Morro and La Punta fortresses. In addition, they registered nine bronze mortars, two iron mortars of various calibers, 4,157 rifles, 460 empty bombs, 300 kilos of rifle rounds and 125,000 cartridges.

The list was much more extensive, with 16,401 cannon balls, 500 hand grenades and 533 quintals of gunpowder. In the upper battery of the Castillo de La Cabaña there are still old cannons such as the Fimbria, La Parca, Garzota, Caudillo, El Fuerte and Ganímedes, which maintain the tradition of firing a cannon at nine o'clock at night, as was done in the past to announce the closing of the gates of the wall that protected the city.

In the gardens of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the island's tourism flagship, you can see pieces of the Santa Clara Battery, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco along with the city's historic center and its network of fortresses.

Built between 1797 and 1799, it was armed with 20 pieces of heavy caliber and long range, of which two are currently on display, the Krupp and the Ordóñez, the latter considered the largest cannon in the world in its time. Its caliber was 30.5 centimeters, it was 10 meters long and weighing 48 thousand kilograms.

On June 13, 1898, during the Havana naval blockade carried out in the course of the Spanish-Cuban-American war, the Ordóñez fired for the last time, but it did so again symbolically a century later, on June 13, 1998, when the hotel was declared a National Monument.

Wrapped in history, the wide variety of cannons from past times preserved in the Cuban capital is currently a particular Havana attraction.