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The Giraldilla: a love story, symbol of Havana

It is said the beautiful Doña Isabel of Bobadilla, married to Hernando de Soto, named General Captain of Cuba by the King of Spain, Carlos I. She waited for her husband during long hours in the surveillance tower of the Castle Real Fuerza, the house of the Governor of the Island at that time. That long wait transformed Isabel into a legendary character that with the sight on the horizon tried to discover the ships that would bring her husband back home.

De Soto left Doña Isabel as Governor and went to the territory of the present United States. He visited several places that today are part of the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. At that time he discovered the Mississippi river and he knew of a famous legend told by the natives about the eternal source of youth. The GiraldillaIn spite of being only 43 years, he decided to go to the mythical place, but unfortunately he couldnt make it, instead he died due to an uncontrollable fever. It is said that the beloved wife died of love.

Some years later an artist resident in Havana and originally from Canaries, Gerónimo Martin Chaffinch (1607-1649), inspired on that woman, as a symbol of a loyal marriage and hope, and he sculpted a figure in their memory.

The governor of the city at that time, Don Juan Bitrián Viamonte in command from 1630 to 1634, made to fuse the sculpture in brass and to place it as a weathervane on top of the recently built tower of the castle. The governor Bitrán baptized the vane with the name of Giraldilla, after the Giralda of his native city, Seville.

Thats how the Giraldilla became the symbol of Havana city, due to its tradition and history, with shades of legend and love story. The original piece is around 43 inches high, is conserved in the Museum of the City and a replica was placed in the highest point of the castle.