Today, many of the Spanish fortresses have been restored and are favored places to visit. Although there is much evidence of the colonial buildings, canons, and and these fortresses of the past, the images of the many magnificent tall ships constructed here by Cuban workers in the Royal Shipyard are all but forgotten by the school children and citizens of Cuba and also the many visitors to this great city.
Several years ago a visiting Canadian with a life long interest in maritime heritage became interested in this era of Cuba's history and in particular this colossal ship. He found limited information on her in the museums of Havana but did find a few individuals who shared a passion about this ship and the many others that were built at the Royal shipyards. All wished to find some way to create a living tribute to this important era of Cuban history. To construct a full size replica of Santísima Trinidad would be foolish and wasteful of resources, but a large scale detailed model that was more than just a static museum piece just might be possible if there were local artisans with the talent and resources.
In the flea markets of Havana there are model ship makers displaying their craft. A few who are serious in their art know a little about this ship but have no documentation on her. Further research with the assistance of museum staff revealed a small group of highly skilled local historic model artisans who held a life long dream to build this "mother of all ships" of the 18th century. In Canada, a "Friends of Santísima Trinidad" association was formed and serious discussions were held. A request was made to meet with Dr. Leal Spengler at the Office of the Historian of Havana. "Leal" greeted the idea with enthusiasm and shared great personal interest in Santísima Trinidad. Through the inspiration of Leal and the director of La Punta and La Fuerza museums, the concept to construct a colonial maritime museum emerged depicting the Royal Shipyard, sailing vessels, naval armaments and sailors' life in the 1800s. The oldest building in Cuba, La Castillo de la Fuerza, has been chosen as the site of this new museum. La Fuerza is also the oldest bastioned fortress in the Americas with protective walls 6 metres thick located right in the heart of the restored colonial section of old Havana. Crowning the circular dome is a small bronze weathervane called La Giraldilla. She is the city symbol and also appears on each bottle of Havana Club rum.
Today an international project in friendship exists between the Office of the Historian and a Canadian based, non profit NGO organization called The Friends of Santísima Trinidad to make the dream reality. The Historian's office completed a major restoration of La Fuerza fortress for this new museum and donated construction materials for the large replica model of the ship. This is now a major cultural and educational centre in the heart of Havana with plans to include a workshop at La Punta for school children, artisans and youth at risk to learn the basics of woodworking and model building.
The Santísima Trinidad was constructed on a scale of 1:25 by a group of Cuba's finest artisans skilled in historic ship model making. The model is almost 4 metres long and of similar height, fully rigged with hand cast armaments, cut away sections, and a computer interface system which allows a virtual tour of the ship in Spanish, English and French. Santísima Trinidad is symbolic of the nearly 200 ships constructed at the Royal shipyard. This is also a project in sustainable employment for a growing group of historic period artisans who led the project.
It is interesting to note that at least four of the Spanish ships at Trafalgar in 1805 were constructed in Havana including the Bahama with Captain Galiano aboard. Galiano is well know in Canada for his earlier explorations for Spain along the coast of British Columbia.
We invite all who cherish global maritime heritage to join with us in support of this major cultural and educational project. As a result of a simple idea, a new world class colonial maritime museum is emerging at La Fuerza Fortress in the heart of Havana.
Now come and meet some of the artisans. . . .
This site was last updated 04/11/11