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The Giraldilla is the symbol of Havana

The Giraldilla is the symbol of Havana

They say that the beautiful Doña Isabel de Bobadilla, wife of Hernando de Soto, when appointed by Carlos I, king of Spain, as Commander in chief of Cuba, spent hours waiting for her husband in the watchtower of Castillo de la Real Fuerza, which at that time was the governor’s house on the island.

This long wait turned Isabel into a legend, with her eye on the horizon trying to make out the ships that would bring her husband back home.

De Soto had left Doña Isabel as governor and departed for the current US territory. He visited several places that today are part of the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. This was when he discovered the Mississippi River and heard a famous legend told by the natives about the source of eternal youth. Despite being only 43 years old, he decided to go to the mythical site but unfortunately his hopes were dashed, since a fever led, inexorably, to his  death.                 .  

They say love died with him. A few years later, Geronimo Martin Finch (1607-1649), a Havana artist originally from the Canary Islands, took this woman, who was a symbol of marital fidelity and hope, as his inspiration and sculpted a figure in her memory.

Don Juan de Bitrián y Viamonte, who was the governor of the city from 1630 to 34, commanded the bronze statue to be melted down and placed as a weather vane on the tower that had been added to the castle shortly after. Governor Bitrián gave the weather vane the name of Giraldilla, in memory of the Giralda in his hometown of Seville. Thus, the Giraldilla became a symbol of the city of Havana and part of its tradition and history, with tinges of a legend and a love story.

The original work, about 110 centimeters tall, is kept in the City Museum and a replica now stands at the top of the castle




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