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James Lorusso - Performer, Teacher, Arranger, Composer

El Morro in Old San Juan

"El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro" later to become known as "El Morro", in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Castillo de San Felipe del Morro" later to become known as "El Morro", in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Castillo de San Felipe del Morro" later to become known as "El Morro", in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Fort San Felipe del Morro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fort San Felipe del Morro —or El Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Spanish— is a sixteenth-century citadel which lies on the northwestern-most point of the islet of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, the fort, also referred to as "El Morro" or "promontory", was designed to guard the entrance to San Juan bay, and defend the city of San Juan from seaborne enemies.

In 1983, the fort was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations and is part of San Juan National Historic Site. Over two million visitors a year explore the windswept ramparts and passageways making the fort one of Puerto Rico's main visitor attractions.

Facing "El Morro", on the opposite side of the bay, a smaller fort known as "El Cañuelo" complemented the fort's defense of the entrance to the bay.

Architecture and Design

The construction of the Fort San Felipe del Morro begun in 1539 when King Charles V of Spain authorized its construction, including the surrounding walls. The purpose was to defend the port of San Juan. Construction started the same year with a tiny proto-fortress that was "completed" in 1589. This small section comprises perhaps 10% of the structure people see today.

In 1587, engineers Juan de Tejada and Juan Bautista Antonelli designed the actual appearance of the castle following well established Spanish military fortification design principles. Similar Spanish fortifications of the 1600s-1700s can be seen in Cuba, St. Augustine, Florida, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Veracruz and Acapulco, Mexico, Portobello and Panama City, Panamá, and many other Latin American locations which were governed as part of the Spanish Empire during the Age of Exploration.

Many complex additional new structures were added to El Morro over the next 400 years. The outer walls are six meters thick. In 1680, Governor Enrique Enríquez de Sotomayor begun the construction of the walls surrounding the city of San Juan, which took 48 years. By the late 18th century, El Morro's walls had grown to be 18 feet thick. Today El Morro has six levels that rise from sea level to 145 feet high. All along the walls are seen the dome-covered sentry boxes known as garitas, which have become a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico itself. A lighthouse was built atop the fort in 1843, but in 1908, it was replaced by the US military with the current lighthouse.

Including the exterior open killing grounds, known as the glacis and esplanade, dominated by cannon in the 17th and 18th centuries, El Morro can be said to take up over 70 acres.

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