After the title of capital of the island had been transferred to Santiago in 1515 the Spanish gradually forgot Baracoa. This caused the city to be converted into an important centre of Caribbean piracy.
In 1739 the Captain General of the Island, Juan Francisco Quemes de Horcasitas, in order to control smuggling in Baracoa and defend the people from pirate attacks, required the governor of Santiago, Francisco Antonio Cajigal, to make a topographical study of the city preparatory to creating the conditions for its defense.
The work was given to the Commander of the Parade Ground of Baracoa, Pedro Oviedo, who between 1739 and 1742 built four fortresses. These, together with the town’s three towers, were designed to protect the area in its entirety and earned it more respect amongst the sea rovers, particularly after a band of pirates that tried to disembark at the Ensenada del Miel were imprisoned and hanged.
Built on the marine terrace of Majana whence it takes its name, located in the Ensenada del Miel. Now completely destroyed.
Built on Esteban Point, whence it takes its name, for the people of Baracoa (without knowing why) began at the beginning of the c.19 to call it Matachin.
When in 1807 the ship of an English pirate called Winchester arrived at the Ensenada del Miel, the Baracoan counter-attack was so decisive that some pirates fled and others were taken prisoner, evidence of the strength of Baracoa’s arsenal.
In 1868 it became a guard post of the Spanish army for the recognition and registry of all those entering and departing from the city. The people protested at the arbitrariness of this measure which was repealed in 1887 but subsequently reinstated in 1895.
After the installation of the pseudo-Republic, it was used firstly as a bastion against the pirates and later was used by the Spanish as a prison. Later it was used as a shelter by a group of desperate families which gathered there in search of refuge. So numerous were the misfortunes that rained down upon them that a sinister name was given to their temporary home: "The Castle of the Damned’.
On 10th October 1981 the Matachín Fort Municipal Museum was inaugurated. This contains a brief account of Baracoa’s history from the time of the Indians and includes the most significant twentieth century facts and events concerning the region.
Built on the high plateau of the Seboruco Hill, in the south east part of the cape, it was endowed with heavy modern artillery for the better defense of the area up to 1800.
Between 1854 and 1868 various alterations were made to it and in 1898, during the North American occupation, it was used for the accommodation of those troops.
By order of the interventionist governor of the island, Leonard Wood, some enlargements were made to it, completed in 1900.
In 1915 the name of "Seboruco Castle’ was changed to Sangüily Castle, in memory of the general of the liberating army. On 31st December 1979 it was converted into the Hotel El Castillo.
Construction located in the extreme north-east of the town.
During the pseudorepublic it housed a radio telegraph office. Now it contains the Guama Restaurant.
Note: In addition other fortifications existed which have disappeared over the course of time: these were the Elvira, Maraví, Nibujón, Guandao, Mata and Capiro Forts.
Towers to control the entrances
The following towers were built during the nineteenth century to control the entrances and exits to the city:
- Joa Tower
- Paraíso Tower
- Caguasy or Sabas Marín Tower