Calm and sad, with her eyes on the horizon, a weathervane known as the Giraldilla, which is the symbol of Havana, is connected to a love story conceived back in the 16th century in Spain.
The figure represents Isabel de Bobadilla, the wife of Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto.
It is said that, having watched her husband set sail one day, his wife spent hours at the watchtower of the Castle of the Royal Force anxiously awaiting his return.
Cast in bronze, the statue remains dead still, watching the ships as they enter the bay of Havana, the same bay that one day had the happy couple set apart forever.
Shortly after the Spanish Crown named Hernando de Soto, 43, Governor of Cuba in 1537, he embarked on a costly trip to Florida looking for new adventures and treasures.
Isabel was left in charge of the administration of colonial Cuba, yet she could not – even for one second - avoid thinking about him.
Records from the colonial period have it that she spent lots of time at the highest point of the aforementioned castle; her tears crystallizing with the sea breeze and her sadness threatening the fading away of any rays of hope.
The walls of the colossal building could not contain Isabel’s wails. She would never accept her husband’s death in 1540 on the banks of the Mississippi River, in the United States.
As time passed by, the young woman did not stop dreaming about Hernando’s return. Only death would put an end to her endless suffering.
Inspired by the legend, Cuban sculptor Jerónimo Martín Pinzón perpetuated Isabel’s image by sculpting a piece that was erected at the highest point of the Royal Force Castle, as ordered by Governor Juan de Bitrián y Viamontes in the early 1930s.
The 110-centimeter high statue holds the trunk of a palm tree (Cuba’s national tree) in her right hand, and a shaft with the Calatrava Cross (the religious order to which Hernando belonged) in her left hand, close to her heart.
Hanging from her neck is a medallion with the artist’s name, whilst her skirt, taken up and held on her right thigh, represents a gentle contrast between decency and sensuality.
As a representation of Isabel’s loyalty to her husband, the statue featured at the top of Havana’s palace for several centuries, until a cyclone brought it down on October 20, 1926.
Shaken by nature’s challenge, the Cuban authorities at the time decided to keep it in the City’s Museum, the former Captain Generals’ Palace.
The Giraldilla has been kept there ever since, protected from the rain, the sun and the wind. The statue now found on top of the Castle of the Royal Force is a copy of the original one.
The piece was named after the Giraldillo, the sculpture on top of the bell tower of the Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla Cathedral in Spain, where the Spanish Governor Juan de Bitrián y Viamontes Bitrián was born.Share on FB Share on TT