Blackbeard's Castle

Blackbeard's Castle
Blackbeard's Castle

Architectural heritage sometimes does not have as much artistic as historical value. Architecture has been considered one of the major arts for centuries. But it is true that one of the most appreciated qualities in construction is its functionality. Something that should be valued for any type of building, from a house to a palace, going through a church, a shopping center or an airport.


Blackbeard's Castle

That functionality as the first architectural consideration, compared to other issues such as the beauty of the building, reaches its maximum expression when we talk about military and defensive constructions. The fortresses, castles or walls of any part of the world and time, from the Castle of Tulum in the Mexican Riviera Maya to the Walls of Ávila of the Spanish Middle Ages, are considered works of art, without being architectural examples designed to be beautiful. They only had to be points of surveillance and defense of a population, without attending to more questions. They are places that tell us more about history and ways of life than about aesthetic issues.

The same applies to many other historical defensive constructions, which in many cases apparently have many similarities with works spread over any part of the planet. This is the case of the one known as Blackbeard's Castle, located on the island of Saint Thomas ofthe United States Virgin Islands.

Blackbeard's Castle itself is a simple cylindrical stone tower, with various openings that served to guard the coast. So far nothing special, and something seen in countless places. But what is interesting is the historical burden of this heritage jewel of the Caribbean Sea. In fact, it is considered a member of the list of National Historic Monuments of the United States.

This is a tower built in 1679 under the supervision of Governor Jorgen Iversen Dyppel, who governed this territory of the Danish West Indies. Since although the current Virgin Islands were one of the places that Columbus discovered on his second voyage to America, the archipelago was soon occupied by the Danes, establishing sugar cane plantations there cultivated by slaves.

Well, when the Danes built this castle in the 17th century on the highest site, they named it Skytsborg. Its function was to guard the coast to protect Fort Christian, which was at sea level, and where the cannon batteries were actually located to shoot at the enemies.

So far the true story. But now the legend begins that mixes some reality and fiction. That is the reason for its current name: Blackbeard's Castle. That name is that of one of the most famous Caribbean pirates, who sailed here in the 18th century. And the legends say thatHe approached this tower and without any problem he leaned out to its peak to contemplate all that sea that he had frightened.

But as we say that is not corroborated, and is more the result of the imagination than of historical studies. Which closes the circle, since art, and also architecture, must have an inspiring power, and in this case it is manifested in the legends that were conceived about this striking historical tower.

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