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Cuba Tourist Attractions
The capital city of Havana, the largest city, is considered to be the most important harbor and commercial center of Cuba. The city has a population of 1.2 million people and an area of 26.728 square kilometers, making it the largest and most populous city in the Caribbean, and the third largest city in terms of the size of urban space in the Caribbean. Havana extends more than the west and south of the Gulf, and thus has three major harbors called Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Atarés. The Almendares River flows from the south to the north and flows a few miles west of the gulf into the Strait of Florida.
The Spanish, in the sixteenth century, established the city of Havana for its strategic position. The city’s position was such that it served as a platform for the conquest of the Spanish, and a stop for the Spanish ships was a treasure trove in the new world. The King of Spain, Philip II, granted the title of “City” as Havana in 1592. The walls and castles were built to protect the old city. In 1898, the sinking of the American Maine shipwreck in Port Havana, was the main reason for the Spanish-American War.
Havana attracts over one million tourists every year. It should be noted that in 1982, the historic center of the city was known as the UNESCO World Heritage. It is also remarkable for history, culture, architecture and monuments. Havana is also classified as a tropical group. In 2015, Havana was officially recognized as one of the seven great new cities among with other cities like Wigan, Doha, La Paz, Durban, Beirut and Kuala Lumpur.
José Martí International Airport is located 11 km south of the center of Havana, and is the main base of the aircraft carrying the flag of Cuba. The airport is the main harbor of international and domestic flights, connecting Havana to other parts of the Caribbean, North, Central and South America, Europe and an African destination.
It also has a small airport called Playa Baracoa, which is used mostly for domestic flights.
Havana Tourist Attractions
History and Havana have a complicated relationship. The name “Havana,” picks up the images of the Spanish conquerors, the revolutionary heroes, and the people who walked once on this sunny beach. Today, the amazing history of the Cuban capital, is waiting for enthusiastic travelers on every maze of old Havana’s paved streets, beautiful Baroque buildings, historic castles, museums, legendary restaurants and vibrant public squares.
Havana is like a celebration for your senses, a city that you can discover by walking. You can listen to live music at the corner of the street, dine in the restaurants where Hemingway once was eating, or smack the salt damp surrounded by Malecón. But perhaps the best part to visit this city is its people. Havana has a friendly people who love the rich history of Caribbean City and are very happy to introduce you to the historical monuments and hidden treasures.
Old Havana: Habana Vieja
The old Havana is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, which captures the charm of the days gone by. Neoclassical and Baroque buildings, have paved squares and narrow streets; and many have been rebuilt in their exquisite form. One of the most prominent buildings in this area is the Cathedral of San Cristobal, a wonderful example of the Cuban Baroque style, the grand La Real Fuerza military castle, Plaza Vieja public square and Plaza de Armas. Plaza de Armas Square has beautiful buildings such as the Palacio de los Capitanes, the Museo de la Ciudad Museum and a beautiful courtyard. After visiting these buildings, visitors are better off than the 35-foot Camera Obscura Tower to get a breathtaking view of these old treasures. Finally, you can go to La Bodeguita del Medio and enjoy seafood and cool drinks. This place is the place where Hemingway spent time, and in this sense it can be memorable for tourists as well.
Catedral de San Cristobal
The Church of San Cristóbal attracts tourists at Cathedral Square, which is also known as the Church of Mary. The construction of this spectacular example of the Cuban Baroque architecture was completed in 1777 by the Franciscans, while the Jesuits began constructing it 29 years ago. In this church, there are two large bell towers adjacent to the palace, decorated with carved pillars. Tourists can explore the beautiful arches and St.
Christopher’s statue by patrolling this space and discovering the corners of it. According to a claim that has never been proven, the works and memorials of Christopher Columbus were in this church from 1796 to 1898. After visiting this church, you can relax in one of the cafes of the square and watch the magnificent views of this church.
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas has played the role of a social center for the city for about five centuries. The cafes and restaurants surrounding this area, will encourage you; and the shine of trees of its gardens, calls the locals and tourists who are eager to tropical heat. Around the square, there are a number of beautiful Baroque buildings, including the Palacio de los Capitanes, which over the years has hosted more than 60 Spanish generals and today is the Museum of the City. Many concerts of music are played in its beautiful, full-bodied courtyard. Also in the Plaza de Armas there is the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the sixteenth-century colonial castle, which is another great sign of this part. In the center of the square and close to the fountains, you can see the Cuban patriotic statue of the Cespedes.
La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant
This Havana restaurant was founded in 1942, and has visited almost all the well-known people who step in to Cuba, including Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and, of course, Ernest Hemingway. The restaurant claims to be the birthplace of the famous Mojito drink, but there are also controversy over this claim. Tourists visit the restaurant to enjoy delicious seafood and cool drinks, listen to Cuban live music and immerse themselves in its nostalgic atmosphere. The rooms of this restaurant depict the past of this place and the city with interesting objects, picture frames, and walls decorated with celebrity or anonymous signatures.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza
Just a few steps away from the city’s museums, the sixteenth-century castle of La Real Fuerza has been set up to counter the pirate attack. Of course, the position of the castle was in such a way (far from the Gulf), which was never used to repel a pirate attack.
Instead, the castle served as a storehouse of valuable objects and accommodation for members of the army and the prosperous class. This castle, designed by Francisco de Colena, is a masterpiece of engineering, with a deep ditch, a moving bridge and walls of 10 meters in height and 6 meters in thickness. Today, visitors can see the history of Havana’s sailing at the Maritime Museum. In this museum, models such as sailing boats, weapons and treasures retrieved from sunken ships are displayed.
Museo de la Ciudad
The museum, located at the Baroque captains’ palace, unveils the amazing history of Havana. Visitors can visit the Cuban Heroic Hall, an exhibition of revolutionary objects. Art history buffs can visit the room Espada cemetery and the tomb of the famous French artist, Vermay. There is a magnificent chairs in the bed room of the museum, which was made during the visit of one of the Spanish kings, but has never been used. Without a doubt, one of the most prominent places in this museum is the Salon de los Espejos, decorated with beautiful nineteenth-century mirrors, which was the place of proclaiming official termination of the Spanish government in 1899.
Among other interesting things in the museum, one can mention the tomb of the anonymous soldier of the Parroquial Church, La Giraldilla, the oldest Cuban bronze sculpture, and the gallery’s tomb statues that are placed on the hollow courtyard. The Familiarizing with the local language and understanding it, is an important advantage, because all tours are spanish.
This old square has experienced many incarnations, but today is one of Havana’s vibrant hotspots for the gathering. The square, built in the sixteenth century, was once used for military exercises and was a popular market. Unfortunately, in the 1950s, the intensity of the construction around the square was so high that it turned into an underground parking lot. But the citizens of Havana, with government support, revived the square, and today it is one of the most popular squares of the old Havana. The eclectic mix of refurbished buildings – from the Art Nouveau to the Cuban Baroque – are located at the edge of the square and an eighteenth century fountain in the center of it.
One of the prominent architectural monuments in this area is the Casa del Conde Jaruco, which has some of the most beautiful multi-colored glass windows.
Plaza de San Francisco
The San Francisco Square is located at the entrance to the old Havana, opposite the Strait, and cools off with sea breezes. Exactly restored buildings of this space will bring a lovely feel to this paved square. On the walls of the San Francisco Square, there are two famous buildings, the first of which is the Lonja del Comercio with an amazing central dome, and the second is the Menor de San Francisco de Asis Church, which offers stunning views to Havana and the sea. It’s said that the church has the best acoustic in all of Cuba, and for this reason the church is also used to perform concerts. In this area, there is also the Fuente de los Leones fountain of white marble, which once was used for the supply of fresh water to passing ships; the creator of this fountain was Giuseppe Gaggini, who donated it to the country Cuba in 1836.
Calle Obispo is famous for its richness, architecture and entertainment throughout Cuba. This narrow path connecting the central park to the artillery arena is busy and full of life in the evening. Travelers can enjoy the restaurants of this Street, such as El Floridita, in their lenvironment, and admire the architecture, mostly in the Cuban Baroque and Art Nouveau style. Among other things that are visible along the street, there are Hotel Ambos Mundos, which has been for seven years the Ernest Hemingway House, and the Taquechal Pharmacy Museum, which distributes more than a century to herbal medicines.
Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta
This castle is a pleasant place to stroll by the sea and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the harbor. The castle of San Salvador is historically very rich and has played an important role in the Havana naval defense. The castle was designed by three people named Giovanni Batista Antonelli, Juan De Cristo and Cristobal De Ruda, and was made in the period of 21 years from 1589 to 1610.
This castle, strategically located on the western edge of Havana Harbor, at a time of uncertainty, has been linked to the other four castles of Havana, Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, with a wooden and brass chain. At the time of the attack, this connection was tight, preventing the arrival of enemy ships to the port. Among all the interesting memorials of this castle is the General Máximo Gómez’s horse statue.
Hotel Ingler is the oldest hotel in Cuba, founded in 1895. At its peak, the hotel has sheltered people like Anna Pawlova, Jose Marty and Winston Churchill. Although the hotel has a neoclassical appearance, it is also influenced by Mudéjar style (a combination of Gothic and Islamic architecture), while the beautiful Andalusian mosaics of this hotel are stunning. In the years before the Cuban separation from Spain, the hotel was a prime location for liberal gathering, and General Antonio Maceo used this place as the headquarters for the planning of the Cuban War of Independence. Today, tourists come to this hotel to benefit from the rich and cheaper accommodations. The hotel’s guest rooms are simply and modestly decorated, but the lobby is dormant in nostalgia. History enthusiasts may want to dip in the hotel’s leather armchairs or sit in an open-air cafe and see the role of the hotel as a stage of change.
Walking along the Malecón, at sunset, is an exciting way to feel this memorable city and see the sights. The famous Boulevard of the Sea of Havana, from Havana to Vedo and the Plaza de la Plana, continues at 7 km. In the direction of this boulevard, there is a colorful collection of well-preserved 20th-century buildings, these buildings have different architectural styles from Art Deco to Neo-Moorish. This combination, in the background of the golden glow of the sun, creates an infinite beauty.
Malecón is also the perfect place to meet local people. People are deliciously fishing in this area, while young families and couples roam around their homes, enjoy fresh air and ocean breeze. If you are looking for a place to relax your tired legs after this tour, you can go to the historic building of the Cuban National Hotel. The hotel is on the World Heritage list and is a national monument, with a host of prominent personalities, including Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro
The castle, also known as the summed up name of El Morro, is located at the entrance to the Gulf of Havana and at the Parque Historico Militar’s historic park. El Morro was built in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to protect the city from pirate attacks. The castle was designed by Italian engineer Giovanni Batista Antonelli, and the passing of centuries did not affect its appearance. One of the most important changes to the castle is its lighthouse tower. This lighthouse was rebuilt many times and eventually replaced with a stone lighthouse in the middle of the nineteenth century. Today, its main lamp continues to shine; while the castle is open to public viewing, it can provide beautiful views of the ocean and the city of Havana from its top.
Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana
With a 15-minute walk from El Morro, in the Parque Historico Militar, you can reach the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, which is located on the top of the hill of Cabana. At the time of construction in the 1770s, San Carlos de la Cabana was the largest and most expensive castle built by the Spaniards. After the occupation of the British, the Spaniards began to build the castle to encompass the entrance of the Gulf of Havana.
The fort, known mainly as La Cabana, was used mainly as a military prison during the Batista regime, and later became the headquarters of Che Guevara. Now there are several museums inside the castle, most notably the Museo de Comandancia del Che Che Guevara Museum, where the “Che”’s office, like the last days, is preserved, and some of its personal belongings are also displayed. Throughout the day, from the fort, you can find amazing views of the city and the sea. At night, tourists arrive at Ceremonia del Cañonazo, where actors wear nineteenth-century dresses and shoot ballads at 9 o’clock.
El Capitolio National Building
Havana’s travelers, who have previously visited Washington DC, will be surprised at seeing El Capitolio, who looks very much like the White House. The building of El Capitolio was opened in 1929 and is very highlighted in the skyline of the city of Havana. This great building is a combination of neo-classical and art nouveau style that has been the seat of government since 1959. Although this large building is reminiscent of the White House of America, it is actually a distinct dome of El Capitolio inspired by the Paris Pantheon. At the time of writing this text, the Capitolio building was under reconstruction to prepare it as the new Cuban Communist House. In any case, for those who travel to Havana, this building with its large dome serves as a city hallmark and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes of Havana is located in two distinct buildings and is one of the attractions that art lovers need to visit. One of these buildings is the Palacio del Centro Asturiano, which was designed by Manuel Bostos in the 1920s and houses the artistic works of European professors and a collection of over 600 works of ancient art from Egyptians to Romans.
Another building is the Palazio de Bellas Artes, a beautiful artistic palace, devoted to the art of Cuba from the seventeenth century to the contemporary era. Here, visitors can watch a spectacular collection of paintings, drama and sculptures. One of the outstanding works of this collection is the marble statue of the “form, space and time” at the entrance of the museum.
Paseo del Prado
Most people believe that the Paseo del Prado is the most beautiful street in Havana. Understanding the sensation of this mosque street, which is in fact the old Havana’s border, needs to be walked in. The polished marble benches, bronze valves and iron lights show the nostalgia of a magnificent boulevard of the past; indeed, this boulevard was once home to some of Havana’s wealthiest families. The magnificent old cinemas, large houses and hotels of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are located along the street, most of them carefully restored. One of the most prominent of these buildings is the Moorish style Hotel Sevilla, which was home to Dr Carlos Finlay, the person who identified mosquitoes as the reason for the spread of yellow fever. Another renowned building is the most famous Havana marriage church called Palacio de los Matrimonios. However, the Paseo del Prado is one of the most popular places to visit at any time of the day.
Gran Teatro de La Habana
Probably Havana’s visitors do not expect to find the world’s largest opera house in the middle of the Caribbean. If you’re lucky, you can take part in one of the theater performances. Certainly, such an experience will become one of the most memorable memories of your journey. The theater, designed by the Belgian architect Paul Belau, is located right in front of the central park, and built in 1915 as part of a larger collection. The beautiful baroque view of this building, which has 4 impressive statues of Master José Martí, will also surprise art lovers.
Over the years, Gran Teatro de La Habana has hosted a wide range of performances by some of the world’s most famous personalities. Today, this building is the home of opera and national ballet of Cuba. It should be noted that this building has been under reconstruction during recent years.
Plaza de la Revolucion: Memorial of José Martí
Revolution Square, known as the Civilized Square before the revolution, is definitely worth visiting due to its historical significance. In 1998, during a visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II made a great celebration in this famous square, and it’s interesting to know that more than a million people gathered for Fidel Castro’s speech.
The memorial of José Martí, in the form of a marble statue of this national Cuban hero, stands beside the 109-meter tower. Visitors can visit the small museum or go to the tower to see panoramic view of the city. It should be noted that government buildings have surrounded the square, including the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is adorned with the image of Che Guevara.
Museo de la Revolucion
This museum is located in the former presidential palace and is even worth visiting from outside. The old presidential palace, designed by the Belgian architect Paul Blau, was built in the early 20th century as a magnificent version of neoclassical architecture. Those who come to this museum are confronted with numerous works of independence from the Cuban struggle. Among the remarkable things in this museum are the Che Guevara wax sculptures and the Camilo Cienfuegos. At the back of the museum, a very interesting item is displayed, which is Granma’s recreational boat. This boat brought Fidel Castro and his gang from Mexico to Cuba!
Miramar is located in the west of the historic center of Havana and traditionally considered a luxurious area. Today, the neighborhood has maintained its credibility by adding luxury hotels and restaurants. Tourists can travel along the tree-covered paths of the area and admire its magnificent houses. It should be noted that some of these houses changed their use of the embassy and state offices after they fled their owners during the revolution. The main street of Miramar is Avenida 5, which houses large-scale Art Deco style and is similar to Miami. It should be noted that all the streets in this area ae numbered, in the meantime, the first street of Avenida Primera is the closest one to the ocean.
Apart from the magnificent atmosphere of the Miramar, other important and interesting parts of it, are Havana Acuario Nacional and Maqueta de La Havana. The Museo del Ministerio del Interior is also another landmark that provide details about the history of the Cuban police force, although most of the explanations are spanish.
Vedado, the commercial center of the city Havana, is surrounded by the east, with Havana and the west, with the Miramar and Playa area. Vedado, in fact, is the most modern part of the city, which expanded in the first half of the 20th century during the period of the Republic, and in 2016 it was recognized as the most prosperous part of the city. The main street of this area is the 23rd Street, drawn east to west, also known as La Rampa. The northern part of this area is the bloom on the edge of the sea called Malcon, which we have talked about before.
Playas del Este
Walking through a short ride from the center of Havana, tourists arrive to the east coast, which extends long from palm-covered beaches, which lasts miles. The eastern shores are a good choice for travelers who can not go to the more distant beaches of Cuba. Along the eastern coast, there are many hotels, restaurants and tourist facilities. In fact, this beach is divided into several sections, one of the best of which is Santa Maria del Mar, which is very much appreciated by tourists. Another area of interest is the Guanabo, which, of course, has less tourist services.
Partagas Cigar Factory
A visit to a traditional Cuban cigarette factory is one of the things you should not forget about visiting Havana. It should be noted that to find such a place, you do not need to get too far from Havana. You can visit the Partagas Cigar Factory at 520 Industria Street. During this visit, you will meet a group of skilled workers who will select the best leaves and within seconds, the most excellent hand cigarettes screw up. One of the things the photo can not say is the wonderful smell of a cigar factory, a spicy and sweet scent of dried leaves that you will never forget.
Havana Street Food
Cubans love to eat fast snacks, and this has caused Havana has a large number of street food retailers. These foods are rich in variety, such as fried pastry with marmalade or cheese, special Cuban sandwiches, ice cream, fruit drinks, and even fried meat, rice and salads, which are packed in the cardboard boxes. These foods are cheap, delicious and definitely worth to try.
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