The Capital of Cuba, Havana or La Habana brings to me very fond memories. First of all is where I was born many decades ago and where I spent my teenage years walking all its streets and going by bus anywhere.
Havana is an incredible city where you’ll find people singing or dancing in any corner. Music is in the heart of every Cuban and the best place to experience this is in La Habana, the Capital of the Republic of Cuba.
Aerial view of La Habana Capital of Cuba
Brief History of Havana Cuba
La Habana, the capital of Cuba was founded in 1519 by the Spanish conquers just a few decades after the Discovery by Columbus in 1492.
Since then it has always been an important capital of the Americas and a Key to the Gulf of Mexico. Its old center or Old Havana maintains the beautiful arcades and terraces and the mix of neoclassical and baroque architecture.
In 1762 during the Seven Years’ War Havana was seized by the English only to be exchanged less than a year later for the Peninsula of Florida. During the wars of Independence during the second half of the 19th century Havana was practically untouched, making it one of the best surviving examples of the Spanish colonial times. Following the most important sights in Havana for the first-time visitor.
The colonial section of La Habana Vieja or Old Havana
La Habana Vieja Is the area that goes from the Malecon all the way to the main port area of Havana, with its narrow streets and small plazas.
For decades after the triumph of the Revolution it was abandoned to its luck, but on the last few decades the Cuban Government started refurbishing La Habana Vieja to bring it back to its old glory. The area is a must for every visitor.
Central Park in Havana surrounded by gorgeous buildings
This is a small part in front of the Capitol featuring a statue of the Apostle Jose Marti. It is the real center of Havana life. Tisa statue was inaugurated in 1905 a decade after his death. Twenty-eight palms are planted to commemorate the day of January when he was born.
In my times it was the park where we went with our school parades to offer flowers to Marti’s statue on significant dates like May20 the Day of Cuba’s Independence. Now there is a corner of the park called La Esquina Caliente or the hot corner where fans of Baseball discuss strategies. The discussion sometime last 24/7.
I want to mention the impressive buildings surrounding this park, like Centro Asturiano, Centro Gallego, Manzana de Gomez and Teatro Nacional.
Paseo del Prado from the Capitol to the Malecon in Havana
This boulevard starts at the Central Park and goes all the way to the Malecon or the Atlantic Ocean. It has a wide walkway lines with three and the roads to both sides of it. Both sides of the walkway are lined with beautiful colonial building with terraces
This famous boulevard was built between 1770 and 1830. In 1928 the statues of the lions adorning the walkway were added and now they are the most kwon feature of the Paseo del Prado.
El Malecon de La Habana for big strolls and passive entertainment
This in my opinion is the number one attraction for tourists. This is a waterfront walkway that extends about 6 km from Old Havana to the Vedado district where the luxury hotels are located. No visitor to Havana should miss a stroll on the famous Malecon. This is also a great place for people watching. We used to go there with the girls in our teenage years and have a lot of fun.
During the Carnival season like in many Caribbean and Latin American countries, people go and take safe seats on the low wall of El Malecon to see the participants go by with their extravagant costumes.
The Capitol of Havana built after the one in Washington DC
This neoclassical building was built in the 1920’s after the Capitol Building in Washington DC and the Pantheon in Paris. It was finally completed in 1929
It was designed by architects Raul Otero and Eugenio Ranieri and is located in the Center of the city. Actually, on Km Zero from where the distances to other towns are measured. The dome resembles an identical one in Florence Italy.
La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada de La Habana, being this its full name, is one of the most visited places in Old Havana
La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada de La Habana
Plaza de Armas
This is the main plaza like in Mexico City the Zocalo or in Madrid La Plaza Mayor. It was designed for military parades.
University of Havana
La Universidad de La Habana was founded in 1728. Located in the Vedado section, is the oldest University in Cuba and one of the first in the Americas.
Cementerio de Colon
You’ll be surprised by the beauty and richness of the monuments and statues that people built for their departed love ones.
Monument to Jose Marti on Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana
It was built before the actual government and called Plaza Civica and is the largest square in Cuba. It is surrounded by government buildings. At major important dates people gather here for immense meetings.
On the center is the large obelisk and the statue of Jose Marti stand proud greeting the visitors. Among the important locations are the Monumento y Museo José Marti, the Palacio de la Revolución, the Ministerio del Interior, and the Ministerio de Comunicaciones.
I hope I gave you an idea of what to see when you visit La Habana, Capital of Cuba and one of the most beautiful cities there are. Maybe I am biased…. After all is the city of my youth.
Map of Cuba showing the location of Havana
images for capital of cuba
old havana by bryan ledgard
centrl park by jorge royen
prado by keizers
malecon by bryan legard
capitol by luca nebuloni
cathedral by michael leverdiere
university by anton zelenov
marti by carol highsmith
all courtesy of wikimedia commons