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The Fortress of Nuestra Señora de Jagua is a military fortification of the XVIII century, known as the Castle of Jagua. It imposes majestic in the landscape of the Bay of Cienfuegos. Nearby was the picturesque fishing village of El Perché, of French origin, very attractive for tourists. The fort was declared National Monument in 1978.

Its construction took twelve years. Located 25 meters above sea level, on a rock at the entrance to the bay. Was part of the chain of defensive systems of the Spanish colonies of America. It was built in cube form, with thick walls and a moat isolated by a drawbridge to avoid the attacks of pirates. It was never taken and it became the third major fortress of the island.

To reach it we will have to cross the bay of Jagua. By the way, this was also the original name of the town of Cienfuegos. This word means wealth, source and principle in Aboriginal languages. According to her legends, Jagua is the name of the woman who taught these early settlers the art of fishing and hunting, cultivating, singing, dancing and curing diseases. In her honor was named the tree of whose fruit she had come forth, and it was considered sacred. In its beginnings, the present city of Cienfuegos was baptized as Villa Fernandina de Jagua. Thus, the fort takes its name from both, the bay and the Villa to which it belonged.

At the beginning of 1989, reconstruction work was carried out in the Jagua Castle until it was inaugurated as a museum in 1998. Today, this colossal castle, perfectly restored, has several exhibition halls and some service areas. The visitor will be able to cross the ramp still intact, the original chapel, the old cells, and the deep pit, among other areas. The history of this colonial military bastion is shown in the exhibition halls.

Among its most significant objects are projectiles and artillery pieces used for defense. In addition, there are exposed some fragments of pottery and white weapons used during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of the pieces of these collections are the result of archaeological finds in the moats of the building.

The people from Cienfuegos have in very high esteem the Castle of Jagua. It is part of the Cienfuegos Cultural Heritage, being the oldest building in the region.

For visit: Entrance of Jagua Bay, Cienfuegos (“22.06476, -80.4641”). Entrance charge, Daily.

by: Leunam Rodríguez