The Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca (also known by the less formal title of Castillo del Morro or as San Pedro de la Roca Castle) is a fortress on the coast of the Cuban city of Santiago de Cuba. About 6 miles (10 km) southwest of the city centre, it overlooks the bay.
It was designed in 1637 by Giovanni Battista Antonelli (also known as Juan Battista Antonelli), a member of a Milanese family of military engineers, on behalf of the governor of the city, Pedro de la Roca de Borja, as a defense against raiding pirates, although an earlier, smaller, fortification had been built between 1590 and 1610. Antonelli design was adapted to the situation of the fortress on the steep sides of the promontory (the morro from which the fortress gets its name) reaching into the bay.
The fear of pirate attacks was well-founded. While the fortress was still being constructed in 1662, English freebooters under the guidance of Christopher Myngs took control of Santiago for two weeks and during their stay destroyed part of the fortification and captured the artillery.
After they departed, the Spanish government ordered the reconstruction of the damaged part of the fortress and raised the garrison to 300 men. Between 1663 and 1669 the engineers Juan Císcara Ibáñez, Juan Císcara Ramirez and Francisco Perez worked on repairing the damage and improving the fortifications, strengthening the flanks and constructing a new artillery platform.
World Heritage Site
During the 20th century the Rock fell into decay, but it was restored during the 1960s by Francisco Prat Puig. The fortress was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, cited as the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.