You can enter the Taganana cave through the Hotel Nacional grounds, where a small display charts the history of the cave and its rocky outcrop. It was named after a character created by novelist Cirilo Villaverde, whose story placed the fictional Indian Taganana there after seeking refuge from pursuing conquistadors. The natural cave and its vantage point overlooking the seafront were capitalized upon by the Spanish, who built the Batería de Santa Clara battery on it in 1797 and then in 1895 positioned two cannon here for use during the Wars of Independence. Following the war, the battery was expanded and converted into military barracks, which remained until the 1930s when the area was earmarked for a showcase hotel. The cave’s final moment of glory came during the Missile Crisis in 1962, when Che Guevara and Castro decamped here with suitable military artillery in preparation for an air defence of the capital.
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