As a defence against marauding pirates in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Captain of Baracoa, one Pedro Oviedo, ordered the fortifications of three forts in Baracoa between 1739 and 1742. Castillo Seburuco, which overlooks the town and El Yunque from the northern hills, has been converted into a hotel, while the Malecón is sealed by La Punta, now a restaurant, a door in its western wall that leads down a flight of stairs to the tiny Playa La Punta, a good spot for a quiet dip. East of the centre, past the shops and the triangular Parque Maceo – complete with bust – is Fuerte Matachín, a well-preserved structure with the original cannons ranged along its walls. The cool interior now houses the town museum, with a good collection of delicately striped polymitas snail shells, some Amerindian relics and a history of the town’s most celebrated characters.

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