About places to see, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Castillo del Morro is one of the best-preserved Spanish fortresses of the 17th century.
It stands at the entrance to the Bay of Santiago, about 10 kilometers southwest of Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city. Perched high atop a cliff, the structure was designed in 1587, but took decades to build and was finally completed at the end of the 17th century. It was originally intended to protect against pirate attacks, but also served as a prison in the late 1700s before being once again converted into a fortress.
Where to go
Today, visitors can explore the many different levels of the fort, learn about pirates and the fort history in the small museum, and enjoy impressive views over the bay. Other cultural highlights of Santiago de Cuba include the Diego Velasquez Museum and Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia, home to the remains of some of Cuba’s most famous military figures. Less than an hour from the city by car, Parque Baconao is a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve, where travelers can tour coffee plantations, wander through beautiful botanical gardens, and enjoy stunning 360-degree views over the mountains and sea from the 1,234 meter summit of Gran Piedra, a large volcanic rock.