Arrive | Travel | Haiti | Martinique | Puerto Rico | St. Kitts and Nevis | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago Back and fort The Caribbean’s history of wars and colonisation has left an extraordinary legacy of military architecture, some of it nearly five centuries old. Recognised today as historic sites, these forts and naval bases are a reminder of the often bloody past that shaped our present By Caribbean Beat | Issue 127 (May/June 2014) 0 Comments Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photograph by Colin D. Young/Shutterstock.comBrimstone Hill. Photograph by Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock.comFort Nieuw Amsterdam. Photograph by Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock.comDiamond Rock. Photograph by T Photography/Shutterstock.comCitadelle Laferrière. Photograph by Daniel Alvarez/Shutterstock.comChaguaramas Naval Base. Photograph by Niko Photo; www.nikophotography.com Castillo San Felipe del Morro San Juan, Puerto Rico; 16th century UNESCO World Heritage Site Dating back to 1539, El Morro is reputed to be the earliest surviving Spanish fortification in the Caribbean, designed to protect San Juan harbour from marauding fleets. As the original structure was augmented and expanded over the centuries, familiar features like the dome-covered sentry boxes or garitas were added. Brimstone Hill Western St Kitts; 17th century UNESCO World Heritage Site In 1690 the British military managed to transport cannon up the precipitous slopes of Brimstone Hill, then spent a century constructing a fortress to guard the coast of St Kitts. The massive structure, known as “the Gibraltar of the West Indies,” was built by enslaved Africans. Abandoned in 1853, it was gradually restored in the following century. Fort Nieuw Amsterdam North of Paramaribo, Suriname; 18th century The colony of Suriname was once considered valuable enough for the Dutch to give up Manhattan Island in its place. Following a French attack, in 1734 the Dutch authorities laid the foundation stone for a major new fort at the confluence of the Commewijne and Suriname Rivers, protecting both the capital Paramaribo and the colony’s richest estates. Pentagonal in layout, with five protruding bastions, the fort was built with bricks shipped from the Netherlands. Diamond Rock Off the south coast of Martinique; 19th century Strategically commanding the sea passage between Martinique and St Lucia, this tiny 574-foot-high island with its vertiginous slopes played a unique role in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1803, Commodore Samuel Hood of the Royal Navy hoisted guns to its summit, appointed a garrison of 120 men, and commissioned the island as HMS Diamond Rock. For seventeen months the “vessel” harassed French shipping, until it was captured by a fleet of sixteen ships. Citadelle Laferrière South of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti; 19th century UNESCO World Heritage Site Commissioned by Henri Christophe, general of the Haitian army, and built between 1805 and 1820, the massive Citadel, with its 365 cannon atop a three-thousand–foot mountain, was intended to safeguard newly independent Haiti from a French invasion. It was designed to withstand a year’s siege, with provisions for five thousand defenders, but never faced an actual attack. MORE LIKE THIS: Alpha plus: Jamaica's Alpha Boys School Chaguaramas Naval Base North-western Trinidad; 20th century In 1940, during the Second World War, the British government leased several naval bases to the US military, including the entire north-western peninsula of Trinidad, finally returned to newly independent Trinidad and Tobago in 1963. Today the area is a national park, dotted with bunkers, hangers, and other remnants — including an impressive though rusting missile tracking station, once part of the US Air Force’s Eastern Test Range.