Sixteen km (10 mi) south of Santiago is the Spanish fortress known as El Morro. It dates from 1640 and was designed by Giovanni Antonelli, the Italian architect and engineer responsible for fortresses bearing the same name in both Havana and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dominating a bluff at the entrance to the Bahía de Santiago de Cuba, El Morro was built to ward off pirates (and rebuilt after a 1662 attack by the English pirate Henry Morgan). Inside you'll find a museum with
exhibits on, appropriately enough, pirates. There are wonderful views from interior rooms, which have wooden floors and stone walls, as well as from various terraces. From the lowest terrace, the view of the fortress itself, formed from the sheer face of the bluff, is powerful. The way into the structure takes you down and then back up a 207-step staircase; a drawbridge over a moat leads to the entrance. In the middle of glittering Santiago Bay you're sure to notice Cayo Granda, a small island with colorful homes and long docks. You can reach it by taking Carretera Ciudamar, which runs along the bay from El Morro (it can also take you back to Santiago). Not far down the road, at a hut resembling a bus stop, you can pick up a ferry that runs from 7 am to 9 pm.
Ruta Turística (Carretera del Morro), El Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba