Castillo San Pedro de la Roca & El Cobre
The "Castillo San Pedro de la Roca", also known as the “Castillo del Morro” sits atop a 60m-high headland at the eastern entrance to Santiago de Cuba harbour. The fort was completed in 1693 to protect the city from raiding pirates. “Castillo San Pedro de la Roca” is a mammoth building with three separate trenches, several drawbridges and six different levels each with their own line of defence. Inside, there is a confusing labyrinth of corridors and rooms which confirms its sheer size. From the lowest level to the highest, soldiers would have had to climb 250 stairs. Supplies would be delivered by sea and then stored in the large storehouse cut directly into the rock. The fortress was not only attacked by pirates, but a series of earthquakes also caused severe damage. With the era of piracy in decline around 1775, the parts of the fort known as “the Star” (“La Estrella”) and “The Rock” (“La Roca”) were converted into a prison for political prisoners. The fortress was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and is today considered one of the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture. After you have visited this spectacular structure, your tour will continue to El Cobre. Not far from Santiago de Cuba, nestled in lush greenery against the backdrop of the Sierra Maestra Moutains, the “Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre” materialises above the El Cobre village with its imposing white towers and copper domes. Inside you will find the magnificent white marble shrine of the nation’s patroness saint; “La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre” (“Our Lady of Charity”). The 35cm-high statue in the centre of the shrine was found by three fisherman out in the Bay of Nipe. Legend has it that the statue was floating in the water as the three fisherman got caught in a storm. The fishermen miraculously made it to shore, with the statue on board. In 1916, the Pope Benedict XV honoured her as the Patroness of Cuba and since 1977, the Basilica has been attracting pilgrims from all over the world. The “Room of Miracles” is littered with unimaginable offerings, including clumps of hair, bicycle inner tubes and clusters of metal body parts. The most impressive offering of them all is a small golden figure of a guerrilla fighter left by the mother of Fidel Castro to protect her son during his campaign. American author Ernest Hemingway also donated his Nobel Prize for his novel “The Old Man and the Sea”. However the medal was later stolen by a tourist, and once recovered was locked away for safe-keeping. Even today, visitors still go to the saint to share their cares and woes. On this excursion from Santiago de Cuba, you will have the chance to discover the historical “Castillo San Pedro de la Roca” and the spiritual El Cobre for yourself.
What is included:
- Transfer to/from Santiago de Cuba
- Tour guide
- Entry to aforementioned attractions