La Villa de San Cristóbal de la Habana, became with the
course of time the meeting place for the Spanish fleets in charge
of transporting to the Metropolis all the wealth extracted from
their domains in the so called New World.
It also became the center of trade and communications between
the region and the Old Continent. Similar advantages, essentially
derived from its strategic geographic position, also influenced
directly the future development of this prosperous villa,
which started to grow under the protection of a unique
defensive system in the Hispanic América and surrounded by a wall
whose construction (started from the second half of the XVII century and
finished more than 100 years later) was considered
ineffective and expensive from the very beginning.
The Parade Square is located just a few steps away,
around which we can see the important Castillo de la Real Fuerza (1577)
-which exhibits today the most important artistic pottery collection in
the island, holding on its tower La Giraldilla, an artistic wind vane
that has become a symbol of the city- The General Capitans' Palace (Museum
of the City) and El Segundo Cabo.
El Templete, a small neoclassic building finished inn
1828, is the place where the inhabitants of Havana celebrate, every November
16, the anniversary of the first mass and the first town council of San
Cristobal de la Habana, and is also the start point of all tourism tours
-in general- around the original center the Cuban Capital.
are three other squares with surrounding structures that invariably
call the attention of the visitors: the Cathedral Square, surrounded
by opulent mansions; the recently restored Plaza Vieja (Old Square),
from where you can see the outstanding house of the Counds of San
Juan de Jaruco and the Square of Saint Francis D' Assisi. Located
next to the identically named church and convent.
Walking on the streets of Old Havana, many of them still
cobbled, also represents the opportunity of getting acquainted with more
than a dozen museums and studio-galleries of famous Cuban and Latin American
fine artists; and visiting the houses of Benito Juárez, Asia, Africa,
Puerto Rico, Arabs (with the only hall for Muslim prayers in Cuba), and
It also interesting to visit the scale model of this
municipality; Alameda de Paula, a wonderful Promenade built during the
second half of the XVIII century; or crossing the Bay onto the towns of
Casablanca, where the Christ of the Bay was built; and Regla, where you
can see the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Virgen de Regla,
who is the protector of seamen and fishermen and patroness of the Bay
The historic-military park Morro-Cabaña is comprises two redoubts
of the size of El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (The Castle of
the Three Kings of El Morro) -1630- and the fortress of San Carlos de
la Cabaña -1774-, considered at the time the most important work
of the fortified defensive system.
It is precisely from the second that a canon
is fired every night, at nine o'clock, in a replica of an attractive
ceremony that used to announce with two shots (early in the mourning
and late at night) that the walls of the city were to be closed
or opened, and to place or remove the enormous floating chain
made of wood and bronze to regulate the access to the port of
Nevertheless, discovering so called Havana of outside the walls
is as passionate as walking on the streets of the old town.
Havana grew under the inflow of the most dissimilar
construction trends of the world, experiencing in its fields the presence
of Renaissance, Mudejar, Baroque and Cuban Baroque, Neoclassicism, Eclecticism,
Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Pragmatism.
It is precisely from the second that a canon is fired
every night, at nine o'clock, in a replica of an attractive ceremony that
used to announce with two shots (early in the mourning and late at night)
that the walls of the city were to be closed or opened, and to place or
remove the enormous floating chain made of wood and bronze to regulate
the access to the port of the villa.
Nevertheless, discovering so called Havana of outside
the walls is as passionate as walking on the streets of the old town.
Havana grew under the inflow of the most dissimilar construction trends
of the world, experiencing in its fields the presence of Renaissance,
Mudejar, Baroque and Cuban Baroque, Neoclassicism, Eclecticism, Art Nouveau,
Art Deco and Pragmatism.
Likewise, on the other side of the useless wall, emblematic
places were built, as it is the case of Prado Promenade, the Great Theater
of Havana and the Capitol, one of the most splendid buildings of the capital
in which the Statue of the Republic was placed, third highest of the world
in indoor space; close to its feet a diamond was planted to mark the kilometer
0 of the Carretera Central (Central Road).
Other places were built, like the famous Malecon
of Havana, about 12 kilometers long and considered the most characteristic
image of the city, linking the traditional center to the populous
neighborhood of Vedado, whose heart, La Rampa, allows easy access
to other places of interest for visitors, like the bicentennial
University of Havana, the Revolution Square and the José
Martí Monument (highest lookout in the city, 138,5 meters
over the sea level)
and the Cemetery of Colon, considered one the most important
of the planer because of its divers artistic values.
There are places of great interest on both sides of
the city too. To the west, Fifth Avenue leads to the residential area
of Miramar, which is the orbit of the entrepreneurial and business world
and where the impressive Scale Model of City is located. The Convention
Center; Pabexto, where different fairs take place during the year; and
the exclusive Club Habana can be seen on the way to the tourism community
of Marina Hemingway, an adequate place for snorkeling, the practice of
high seas fishing, going on seafari tours to the Coral Reefs, or sailing
on comfortable yachts designed for life on board.
To the east of the city and after crossing the Tunnel
of the Bay, you will arrive at the fishing town of Cojímar -particularly
beautiful and colorful- which invites to remembering the lengthy stay
in Cuba of Nobel Prize of Literature, Ernest Hemingway, who found right
here many of the settings and characters of his works.
More than 15 kilometers of coasts, fine sands
and blue waters stretch out between Bacuranao and Guanabo creating
a nautical circuit, simply identified by the inhabitants of Havana
as Playas del Este, and where natural attributes usually make
Santa María del Mar outstanding place.
Also on the way to the east of the capital, only 15
kilometers away from downtown, you can find a town founded in 1733 out
of the existence of mineral-medicinal waters that will invite you to get
acquainted with its historical, architectural, cultural and natural values:
Santa María del Rosario.
Like any other great city, Havana is the center of the
intense political, scientific and cultural life of the nation. Tens of
museums, theaters and concert halls, galleries of art and cultural institutions
are known all over the city, and some like the National Ballet of Cuba,
the House of the Américas, the Foundation of New Latin American
Film, or the National Folkloric Dance Group have an enormous international
And, of course, it is also a city where good food and
entertainment have reserved there own space in renown places like la Bodeguita
del Medio, El Floridita, Cabaret Tropicana, and others that are less known,
but with a high degree of preference among the thousands of tourists who
visit the Cuban capital every year.