In the wake of the conquest of the New World by the Spanish crown at the end of the 15th century, the expansionist interests of the other major European powers had become so invasive as to convince the Spanish King Philip II of the need to develop a systematic project for the military defence of the most important ports and coastal areas of his new overseas colonies. By then the culture of the Renaissance in the field of military architecture was widely understood in all the major European courts, not least thanks to treatises published by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Giovan Battista Belluzzi, and Giuliano and Antonio da Sangallo, supported by important contributions from the liberal arts, mathematics, and geometry. Of the many interpreters of the Renaissance language of military architecture, the Italian military engineer Battista Antonelli, born in 1547 at Gatteo in the Duchy of Romagna and trained at the court of Vespasiano Gonzaga Colonna, Duke of Sabbioneta, was the first to apply its methods and procedures to the construction of Philip's fortifications in the New World. Although he was the architect of numerous fortified buildings, mainly in the Caribbean, few studies of military architecture have so far examined his work. This paper analyses two important works of fortification that he designed and built in the city of Havana between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th: the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro and the Castillo San Salvador de la Punta. Their completion not only introduced the European Renaissance culture of military architecture to the island, but also had a strong impact on the urban development of the city in general and its relationship with the surrounding territory. In 1982, UNESCO added these fortifications to its World Heritage List, together with the historic centre of Havana.
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