Cuba remained a jewel in the Spanish Empire's crown for centuries until it was relinquished to the United States in 1898. To protect the Spanish from locals (and more importantly, pirates) a series of forts were constructed, primarily in Havana and Santiago. Eventually, these forts were refitted and expanded as Cuba's military importance grew and as the island was dragged into the wars of Europe - such as Britain's conquest of Cuba in 1762 during the Seven Year's War (it was quickly returned to Spain in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris that ended the war) and conflicts with France.
The forts of Havana, Cuba.
Since most of the current forts were constructed in the late 1500s to mid-1700s, many share the 'star fort' or 'bastion fort' innovation that arose in Europe in the mid-1400s which enabled forts to withstand cannon barrages much more effectively than earlier styles of fortification.
With a few exceptions, Cuba's forts are centered around Havana. One of the great losses of Cuba's history, are the 5 km of walls that once surrounded the old city of Havana. They were constructed between 1674 and 1740, contained 11 gates, and rose to 10 meters in height, but the walls were demolished starting in 1863. Only a few very small segments remain. However, like many cities that no longer retain their walls, the path of the walls can be readily identified, as roads are often constructed along their former path.
Comparison of the old city of Havana. (Left) a 1853 map showing the city walls, (Right) a current satellite image showing where the walls once stood.
Find out more about #FortressCuba and its 14 forts by downloading the Google Earth File here, or you can explore the map below.
As always, if there's an error or a missing place (that you have the exact location of), please let me know. Projects like Fortress Earth only work when people share their knowledge.
--Jacob Bogle, 10/18/17