El Cañonazo de las Nueve

For a brief moment in history the British ruled over Havana, Cuba...

Le Ceremonia del Cañonazo de las Nueve en el Murro de la Cabaña en Havana, Cuba

Have a look at the ceremony of the curfew cannon preserved in Havana since the British occupation of 1762-63.

A brief history of Cuba

Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the island of Cuba on his famous 1492 voyage to the Americas and by the early 1500's the conquest of the island's native population by Spain was well underway. The exceptionally brutal campaign was over in about a decade and Havana was founded by 1514.

Once well cemented under Spanish control the slave trade began depositing Africans in Cuba to work the sugar plantations. Cuba was the last land in the Americas to do away with slavery and as such has as powerful African influence as any other state in the Americas.

Cuba then became a staging point for shipments of gold from the New World back to Spain and as such, an irresistible target for pirate activity. Spain invested heavily in fortifying the pirate plagued Bay of Havana and El Morro especially was impressive being under construction for 200 years!

The Seven Years War and The Battle of Havana

During the 1700s England and Spain came into conflict as imperial powers and that conflict spilled over into the New World. In 1762, as part of the Seven Years War, England laid siege on El Morro fortification in Havana, Cuba.

Spain had prepared the defense of Havana Bay by building exceptionally strong castles on bluffs over both sides of the entrance, anchoring 7 ships of the line, installing dozens of heavy guns andstationing thousands of troops. They even had a boom chain stung across the mouth of the channel to tangle the rudders of any enemy ships that tried to enter.

The clever British committed just enough force to the mouth of the bay to draw the attention of the entirety of the Spanish defenses while the bulk of the English force landed to the Northeast and fortified a strategic hill overlooking Morro Castle. The battle was basically lost at that point as the British systematically prepared and executed a siege that would eventually lead to Spanish surrender.

The British Occupation of Havana

The fall of Havana was the nail in the coffin of the Spanish empire and forced the treaty of Paris just over half a year later in which Cuba was returned to Spain but Florida was ceded to Britain. Even though the British occupation was so short it left a lasting impression on the Cuban people that is honored even to this day.

Every night at 9 (moved back from its original time of 7PM) Cubans dressed as British soldiers reenact the ceremony of the cannon shot that signaled the end of the day, the closing of the gates at the city wall and the start of the evening curfew meant to keep Cubans indoors and away from the danger of potential pirate invaders.