Churruca’s Observatory (Fort Chacon)

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This site is on the Heritage Asset Inventory which is the official list of Trinidad and Tobago’s historic sites that are worthy of notation and preservation. The register is authorized by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago’s Council and is by no means exhaustive. The sites on the Heritage Asset Register are not owned by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. The Trust welcomes any historical information and oral histories the public wishes to share with us concerning this site via the feedback form.

Don Cosmo Damien Churruca was a Spanish Officer and well known scientific navigator. In 1792 he was appointed to lead the expedition to fix the longitudinal points in the New World relative to Cadiz. 

He arrived in Trinidad on July 21st 1792 with the permission of the Spanish Governor Don Jose Maria Chacon, proceeded to establish an observatory at Laventille, near to the Roman Catholic Church. 

Today, a plaque names the ancient structure, Fort Chacon.

On January 2nd 1793, Churruca made geographical and astronomical history by observing with great precision, the immersion of the third satellite of Jupiter in the disc of the moon and also that of the first satellite. From his observations, he fixed for the first time, an accurate meridian in the New World. On January 28th 1793, Churruca dismantled his observatory and sailed to Grenada and then to Spain. 

On 21st October 1793 in Cadiz, Churruca accurately assimilated his observations enabling him to link the New World with the Old and fix an absolute longitude of the Observatory at Laventille. This he later confirmed by further observations in Havana, Cuba. 

Churruca married Don Maria Dolores Ruiz de Apodaca, a niece of Son Sebastien Ruiz de Apodaca, Admiral of the Spanish fleet which was at Chaguaramas when General Abercromby captured Trinidad in 1797. 

Observatory Street in Laventille was named for Churruca’s observatory.

-The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, The Built Heritage of Trinidad and Tobago, 2010

Other Known Name: Churruca’s Observatory

Address: Observatory Street, Laventille Hills

Town/City: Port of Spain

Region: San Juan – Laventille

Site Type: Cultural Heritage

Ownership: Public

Public Accessibility: Full Access

Cultural Community: Spanish

Site Features: Forts, Batteries & Cannons

Address:

Observatory Street, Laventille Hills, Port of Spain, San Juan – Laventille