Castillo San Felipe del Morro

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro also known as Fort San Felipe del Morro or Morro Castle, is a 16th-century citadel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The construction of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro and its surrounding walls began in 1539 when King Charles V of Spain authorized its construction. The purpose was to defend the port of San Juan, by controlling the entry to its harbor. In order to have a viable defense while the rest of the fort was completed, a small proto-fortress was erected during the first year of construction. It is estimated that this section comprises about 10% of the whole structure. But it was not till 1587, that engineers Juan de Tejada and Juan Bautista Antonelli drew the fort's final design, which was based on the established Spanish Military Fortification principles of the times. Thus, similar Spanish fortifications of the 17th-18th centuries can be found in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Veracruz and Acapulco, Mexico, Portobelo and Panama City, Panamá, and many other Latin American locations which were 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 to keep up with the new military technologies. For example, El Morro's outer walls, which were originally constructed six meters thick, were augmented to 18 feet (5.5 m) thickness by the end of the 18th century. Moreover, in 1680, Governor Enrique Enríquez de Sotomayor began the construction of the walls surrounding the city of San Juan, which took 48 years to build. The castillo was part of the Four Lines of Defense along with the San Cristobal Castle, being the San Gerónimo fortress and San Antonio bridge the first line. Today El Morro has six levels that rise from sea level to 145 feet (44 m) 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. The El Morro or Port San Juan Light was built atop the castillo in 1843, but in 1908, it was replaced by the US military with the current lighthouse. The original lighthouse was destroyed by US warship fire during the 1898 bombardment of the city. 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 (280,000 m²).
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