Old Havana, historical places and environments (central and northern)
Suggested start time: 9:00 am
Approximate travel end time: 6:00 pm For starting click here Browse clicking the numbers
Since the vast majority of visitors access to Old Havana from the Paseo del Prado (Paseo de José Martí), and very promptly from Central Park, practically we have taken the Prado as a starting point.
Capitolio Nacional - Prado between San Jose and Dragones. The route starts in this monumental building on the Paseo del Prado sidewalk located in Central Havana. Neoclassical facade, was built between 1926 and 1929 to host the Congress.
An imposing staircase of 55 steps, flanked by two bronze statues, Work and Virtue Tutelary, Italian Angelo Zanelli works leads to the entrance porch. Inside under the dome, the same author, is the Republic, which at the time was under roof, the second world's largest statue.
Guarded by The Republic, a diamond embedded in the marble floor marks the zero kilometer from the main highway. Should not miss the majestic Hall of Lost Steps (50 meters long, 14.5 wide and 20 strut).
The National Capitol. In recent years it was home to the Academy of Sciences and museum. Since 2015 it is once again the seat of the Cuban Parliament. Its beautiful dome has a height of 91 meters.
Capitol restoration work, undertaken since 2016, has received the Bernhard Remmers Award.
On the opposite sidewalk, a few meters from one end of the Capitol, is the Central Park - Prado streets, Zulueta, Neptune and San José, considered the main "gateway" to Old Havana. Concluded in 1877, replaced small squares located off the defensive wall, demolished from 1863. In its center appreciate the first monument erected in Cuba to national hero Jose Marti. The work, from 1904, is the sculptor José Villalta de Saavedra. Fountains, sculptures, lampposts and benches under the shade of leafy trees help make pleasant stay in place.
On days when the annual baseball series takes place in Cuba or to a national or international sporting event captures the attention of all, is of special interest to the visitor stop at the picturesque "hot corner" of Central Park, overlooking the street Zulueta, where dozens of people argue passionately about the performance of their favorite teams.
This admirable photograph taken before the demolition of the wall, shows in the foreground a portion of what was the Parque de Isabel II, which today is part of the Central Park. In the background, the wall and two of its doors, to the left, the one of O'Reilly, and to the right the one of Bishop. Precisely for what today is the corner of Obispo and Monserrate we will make entrance to Old Havana.
The Parque Central today
In the environment of Central Park we distinguish some important buildings:
The Gran Teatro de La Habana - Prado between San Rafael and San José, 1915. Conceived as a social center of the island Galicia (Centro Gallego), occupies the block that was the Tacon Theater. Its eclectic and neo-baroque architecture, their facades decorated with sculptures and other ornaments, its majestic staircase, among other attributes, make today's Gran Teatro de La Habana one of the landmarks of the city. Important figures of world art as Sarah Bernhardt, Enrico Caruso, Padovani and Alicia Alonso presented on its stage.
The Gran Teatro de La Habana is home to the National Ballet of Cuba.
Hotel Inglaterra - Prado No. 416, corner of San Rafael, dating back to 1856, however, its current appearance is due to the renovations and additions made in 1891 and 1915. It has an interior patio. In the nineteenth century the sidewalk to the Prado was known as the Louvre Sidewalk for a coffee of the same name occupied the basement of the building, meeting place of young habaneros who craved the independence of Cuba.
Hotel Inglaterra. In 1890 the independence patriot Antonio Maceo was staying at the hotel.
Also adjacent to Central Park we find the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (building universal art) - San Rafael between Zulueta and Monserrate. 1927. Originally it was the Asturian Center, whose construction 1 250 tons of marble were imported. Honor his great staircase and the beautiful skylight of the building are considered the most dazzling of the country.
The museum houses one of the largest collections of painting and sculpture existing in Latin America. Astonishes the "Count of Lagunillas" collection, recognized as one of the most important in the world in ancient art. Gumá Joaquín Herrera (Havana, 1909-1980), Count of Lagunillas, descendant of a family of Creole nobility, a man of great culture, devoted part of his fortune to collecting art. In 1955 he deposited in the museum about 700 pieces, in an area of over a thousand square meters, they have been classified according to their belonging to the Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures.
National Museum of Fine Arts
(Universal Art Building).
Leaving behind the Museum of Fine Arts, the Floridita - Obispo corner Monserrate, invites guests to enjoy Daiquiri, refreshing cocktail made with white rum and lemon juice Creole. The establishment opened under another name in 1817. In 1953 Esquire magazine recognized him as one of the seven most famous bars in the world and in 1992 he was awarded the Best of the Best Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Gastronomic Sciences.
El Floridita was one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite sites in Havana, which is remembered inside with a sculpture of the Nobel Prize for Literature lying at the bar, by José Villa Soberón.
Facing the Floridita, on the Plazuela de Albear - Monserrate streets, Bernaza, Obispo and O'Reilly, a monument pays tribute to the military engineer Francisco de Albear (1816-1887), creator of the project driving of Havana waters of the springs Vento, rated as the most important work of nineteenth-century Cuban engineering.
We recommend entering the courtyard lobby and beautiful Hotel Florida - Obispo corner to Cuba, mansion built in 1836 as a family residence of the landowner Joaquin Gomez, converted into a hotel in 1885.
It is a street of shops, restaurants, bars, bookstores, ateliers, institutions and money exchange. On the way we stop a moment suggest Obispo No. 305, between Habana and Aguiar, at the Numismatic Museum, former Banco Mendoza - 1915, which houses a collection valued at 50 million dollars.
We entered through Old Havana Street Obispo, pedestrian since the mid-80s of the twentieth century. This important route originated in the sixteenth century, at an early date to the founding of the Villa, although it was later that took the name of Calle del Obispado and early nineteenth Calle del Obispo century, presumably because they are in one of its corners the residence of the prelates.
Interior of Hotel Florida
A few steps a monumental building, now the Ministry of Finance and Prices rises - Obispo between Cuba and San Ignacio, built in 1907 by the renowned American firm Purdy & Henderson for the North American Trust Company, a financial institution since 1901 it started operating as National Bank. The facade, neoclassical, exhibits a Corinthian colonnade of the portico doing.
In Obispo between San Ignacio and Mercaderes, we find the College San Gerónimo de La Habana, modern building constructed between 1957 and 1958, dramatically altering the architectural environment to host Terminal Helicopters SA This place was located the convent of Santo Domingo, where he founded the Royal and Pontifical University of San Gerónimo of Havana in 1728. The convent was gradually demolished since 1916, not without opposition from many personalities.
The Office of the Historian of Havana, with some of its units sharing the building with the college, he developed an innovative project through which the upper structure of reinforced concrete was treated with a glass envelope reflecting the environment. In the background, on O'Reilly Street was erected in its original place, the tower of the former convent, while the wall facing the street Mercaderes and the majestic Baroque façade were reinterpreted.
Diagonally to the Plazuela de Albear, in a 1935 building, art deco style, welcomes the bookshop La Moderna Poesia – Obispo, Bernaza corner. Established in 1890 on a previous building, decades later became the country's largest bookstore.
At the corner of Obispo and Mercaderes the Ambos Mundos Hotel, eclectic building of the late twenties, remains intact and can be visited the room he occupied Ernest Hemingway in the thirties, while writing his famous novel hotel "For Whom the bell Tolls”.
The Ambos Mundos Hotel
Almost ending Obispo Street, we come to the Plaza de Armas, the scope of which was the "original village". In Obispo 117-119, the House of Antonio Hoces Carrillo, 1648, is one of the oldest preserved.
We input a crucial to the history of the city unique space, surrounded by buildings of high heritage value: the Plaza de Armas - Bishop streets, O'Reilly, Baratillo and Tacon. First place of the town, dating from the first third of the sixteenth century. It was remodeled in 1776 to be demolished Parish Mayor, originally located in their environment.
Sunset in the Plaza de Armas. In 1955 the statue of Fernando VII that was in its center was replaced by the one of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the first president of the Cuban republic in arms.
In the vicinity of the Plaza, begin by El Templete, 1828 - Plaza de Armas, is a commemorative construction appearance of Greco-Roman temple that marks the site of the founding Mass in Havana, celebrated on November 16, 1519, and the first chapter of the villa. Inside, three works by French painter Jean Baptiste Vermay represent the mass, the council and the inauguration of the monument itself on March 19, 1828. Along with the paintings, a marble urn keeps the ashes of the painter, founder of the Academy Painting of San Alejandro, still active in their educational work.
Outside, after iron perimeter fence, he was guarded one erected in 1754 with the same commemorative purpose, holding the image of the Virgen del Pilar column. A leafy ceiba planted in 1960 is the last replacement of the original, dead in the middle of the eighteenth century.
The Templete. Every year, from the night of November 15 and all day 16, thousands of Havanans perform the ritual of giving the ceiba three turns and throwing coins between their roots, quietly requesting their wishes.
On one side of the Templete, the elegant Hotel Santa Isabel works since 1867 in which was Casa del Conde de Santovenia, 1784 - Street Baratillo 9 Plaza de Armas.
Recognized as the most important building of the eighteenth century Cuba and one of the largest architectural value of all time, the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, 1776-1791 - Tacon Street between Obispo and O'Reilly, is an exponent of a Baroque "sober" and has a beautiful interior courtyard in the center of which was installed in 1862 a statue of Christopher Columbus.
The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales was the residence of the Spanish governors until 1898 and that the caleseros passed slowly and noiselessly down the street the building made of cobblestones wooden not interrupt nap General Tacon who ordered place for this purpose.
Between 1898 and 1902 there settled the American interventionist government, and from 1920 until last year was the Presidential Palace.
The Palace of the General Captains is today the Museum of the City, one of the most interesting for the traveler.
Looking into the square and flanked by moats Castle of the Force, the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, 1770-1791 - O'Reilly Street 4, was originally conceived as Real Casa de Correos.
The bell tower and the replica of La Giraldilla. The original, about 110 centimeters high, is preserved in the entrance hall of the fort itself, being the oldest sculpture on the island and a symbol of the city.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza.
The Castillo de la Real Fuerza - with main access by O'Reilly Street No. 2, to the Plaza de Armas, was built between 1558 and 1577. We are in the presence of the building standing oldest in Cuba, as well as the oldest fortress in Latin America. It is surrounded by a wide moat, over which a wooden bridge gives access to the interior. The bell tower was erected around 1632; on it stands the "La Giraldilla" bronze weathervane shaped woman by Jerome Martin Pinzon.
From the castle we cross the Avenida del Puerto and we stand by the wall of the inlet channel of the Bay of Havana. The extraordinary view includes something away, at the mouth of the canal and on a hill to the Castle of the Three Kings of Morro, we will see closer during our tour. In front of us, also on the east bank of the canal, the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana, 1763-1774, with seven hundred meters long and an area of ten hectares, is the largest and most formidable of the strengths that the Spanish built in the New World. It was built to complete the defense of the city and equipped with advances in military matters themselves eighteenth century. At nine p.m. daily, in their bastions ceremony "gun" reminiscent cannon shot announcing the closing of the gates of the city wall occurs.
In addition to a museum, the Cabaña is home to important cultural events such as the International Book Fair.
More to the right, 51 meters above sea level, the Christ of Havana welcomes ships and observes the city. Made of Carrara marble, the work of the Cuban sculptor Jilma Wood is about 20 meters high and weighing approximately 320 tonnes. The statue, brought in 67 pieces from Italy, was blessed by Pope Pius XII.
The image of the Christ of Havana was located on the hill of La Cabaña on December 24, 1958.
On the sidewalk, on the Avenida del Puerto, the Fountain of Neptune, 1797, he was brought from Rome and inaugurated in 1839.
The Neptune Fountain had the original function of supplying drinking water to ships.
In Oficios 6 corner Obispo, La Mina restaurant occupies what was once part of San Francisco de Sales College, XVII century. His cloistered courtyard is the only one in the habanera period architecture surrounded by galleries on all sides. In high today are the workshops of renowned painters Pedro Pablo Oliva and Zayda del Rio.
In Oficios 8, we suggest you pay attention to the Casa del Obispo, seventeenth century, which later became the Episcopal Palace and remodeled after 1858, based pawnshop. In Oficios 12, the former College of St. Ambrose, XVII to XVIII century, worked until recently as the Arab House Museum and restaurant. In the corner with Obrapía Hostal Valencia, XVII century with later renovations, is one of the coziest inns in Havana.
A few meters later, before us, one of the most elegant areas of the city: the Plaza de San Francisco, 1628 - Amargura Street, San Pedro and Oficios. It served as a point of water fleets. In addition to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi, they surround the Lonja del Comercio and the customs building. In its vicinity, also Oficios, can be visited the gallery - workshop of famed Cuban painter Nelson Dominguez and the house - study of the Venezuelan artist Carmen Montilla.
The Plaza de San Francisco and the Convent and Church of San Francisco de Asís.
Entering the Plaza, on the left, the Lonja del Comercio Inaugurated in 1909 - Amargura 2 Plaza de San Francisco. This building was a project architect and Valencian sculptor Tomas Mur. It was located where the fish market was located Groceries, founded in 1878, a regular meeting place for traders. In the dome a beautiful bronze reproduction of God Trade "Mercury" by Italian sculptor Juan de Bolonia was installed.
La Lonja del Comercio is now home to offices, companies, institutions and the Havana radio station.
The Fountain of the Lions, commissioned in 1836 by the Count of Villanueva to the sculptor Giuseppe Gaggini, beautifies the Plaza de San Francisco.
Tower of the Lesser Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The Basilica is today a magnificent concert hall and together with the convent is home to the Museum of Sacred Art.
Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi, 1719-1738 - Oficios between Amargura and Churruca. The stone known as "Jaimanitas", extracted from quarries in a nearby village was used in the building of the church. Its facade has three stone sculptures: the Queen of Heaven, St. Francis de Sales and Santo Domingo Guzman. Inside tombs of nobles, generals, governors and a vice-queen of Peru were found. The church tower, 42 meters high, is the second in altitude of the colonial period, surpassed only by the Iznaga Tower (Valley of the Sugar Mills, Trinidad). At the back of the large building, in a garden to the street San Pedro, as a cemetery, they are deposited the ashes of many personalities of Cuban culture. Also there is the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, temple of reduced dimensions.
Later in Oficios 304 between Teniente Rey and Muralla, is the Convent of Santa Brigida set in a house built in the first half of the eighteenth century as the residence of Count Don Lorenzo Ruiz de Alarcon and Montalvo. The convent has three interconnected plots, with facades by the Oficios and Teniente Rey streets. In one wing of the property the sisters Brigittines serve a guest house.
A few steps away, at the end of the great wall of the Convent of San Francisco, we expect the Coche Mambi - Oficios and Churruca, railway wagon built in 1900 in the United States, which was used as a presidential car. They were built only three copies of this model of "mobile home", intended for railway companies in the United States, Mexico and Cuba.
And to the right of Mambi Coche, the Government Palace Museum, 1909-1911 – Oficios 211, it resulted from the expansion and remodeling of an old colonial building. Neoclassical building became a building of public use in the first republican decade, to host the House of Representatives.
Government Palace; In the background the Mambi Car appears.
At this point, after taking a look at the exclusive Jewelry Cuervo and Sobrinos - Oficios and Muralla, we must return our steps to the corner of Oficios and Teniente Rey, to get into the latter street see the remains of the Royal Zanja which supplied water to the old city and other sites of interest: the Cuban House of Perfume, a small Aquarium and beautiful hostel "Los Frailes".
Through the Royal Zanja water flowed from the river Almendares, about 10 km away, to Havana then.
La Plaza Vieja, XVI century – Muralla, Teniente Rey, Mercaderes and San Ignacio streets. Although it was in 1559 as an open space, it is in the seventeenth century that is shaped and gains in importance, then being known as Plaza Nueva. In the eighteenth century it became popular market in 1814, with the birth of the New Market of the Plaza del Cristo, was renamed to differentiate Plaza Vieja.
Since 1995 a project forward to restore the image of the square, including a reproduction of the fountain stood there in the early eighteenth century Italian sculptor Giorgio Massari.
The square is surrounded by valuable buildings from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and some belonging to the early XX:
At the corner of Mercaderes and Wall, it stands the house of Joseph Martin Felix de Arrate, habanero historian of the eighteenth century, which is the oldest of all the Plaza Vieja (XVII century) building. It is currently the Museum of Playing Cards.
In Muralla 107-111, the majestic Casa del Conde de San Juan de Jaruco, 1737, has a pleasant facade contrasting composition struts and forms of the arches of both floors, with beautiful stained glass lucetas. In this mansion he was born Cuban narrator Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, Countess of Merlin, and in its halls gathered the cream of Havana society.
A la derecha, la casa del Conde de San Juan de Jaruco es hoy al centro de arte “La Casona”.
Then, in the sense clockwise, the house that belonged to Laureano Torres de Ayala, Marquess of House-Torres, rebuilt after a fire in 1894 and recently restored by the Office of the Historian of the City, is a tavern brewing with Austrian technology. Everyone knows her as "the Plaza Vieja brewery".
In the House of the Sisters Cardenas, 1805, remodeled in 1834 - San Ignacio 352, it was founded in 1834 the Philharmonic Society, sponsor of lavish parties and dances. Nowadays there lies the Development Center of Visual Arts.
In the section of San Ignacio between Muralla and Teniente Rey, the Casa del Conde Lombillo House 1745 - San Ignacio 364, occupied homes and offices, had murals in the main facade.
In Plaza Vieja, some well-known brands hide behind the portals. The environment is complemented by the Planetarium, the Camera Obscura, restaurants.
The Old Square in its section of San Ignacio between Lieutenant King and Wall.
In the Mercaderes stretch between Muralla and Teniente Rey we highlight two buildings, the Photo Library of Cuba, former home of Beatriz Perez Borroto, XVIII century - Mercaderes 307, could only be partially redeemed, became such deterioration. Meanwhile, the House of the Marquises of the Royal Proclamation 1751 - Mercaderes 315-317, has homes in its second floor and in the basement, the Café "El Escorial".
In the Escorial you can buy excellent roasted and ground coffee from the Sierra del Escambray, coffee zone of southern central Cuba
We left the Plaza Vieja by the Mercaderes street, toward the street Obispo. This pathway, one of the first of the town, owes its name to the numerous merchandise stores it were. Walking through it is extremely gratifying. Hostal del Habano, the restaurant La Prensa, the Casa del Chocolate, the Meson de la Flota, among other sites, are part of the journey.
We suggest a stop at the Museum of Ceramics (Casa Aguilera) - Mercaderes corner Amargura, which has striking long balconies.
Also at the Simon Bolivar House Museum - Mercaderes 156. By 1817 there is what was an old domestic palace which had among its principal owners to the Marquis of Aguas Claras and the counts of Villanueva.
In Mercaderes and Lamparilla Rumiñahui Park sculpture exhibits Ecuadorian famous artist Oswaldo Wayasamín, while in Mercaderes and Obrapía the monument to Simon Bolivar is a replica of that is in the Plaza Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
The corner of Mercaderes and Obrapía awaits us with two important buildings, the Casa Benito Juárez - entry Obrapía 116, also known as Casa Mexico, occupies a residence of the late eighteenth century
The House of the Pious – entrance through Obrapía 158 of remarkable distinction, is the union of two properties refurbished to 1793. It owes its name to a pious work offered every year by an illustrious Havana to sustain financially five young orphaned family in need of training.
Extraordinary cover of the House of the Work Pia, presumably executed in Cadiz on the 1686.
Entrance also through Obrapía 157, the Casa Africa, 1887, has a valuable ethnographic collection from the African continent.
Before arriving again Obispo Street, we pass the House Museum Asia, the restaurant Chinese food The Ivory Tower, workshop craft paper, the Marco Polo shops selling spices and Market East with items from that source, the Model of the Historical Center, the cinematographer Lumière and Egyptian Colonnade, cafe once associated with the Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz (1845-1900), who arrived in Havana in December 1872 to undertake the representation consular his country in Cuba.
Without leaving Mercaderes, we crossed Bishop and be found between the College San Gerónimo of Havana and the bottom of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, move aside the restaurant La Dominica and shop Collection Havana, until the Mural, 2000 - Mercaderes between O'Reilly and Empedrado, Andrés Carrillo work in an entire facade enlivens the Artistic and Literary Grammar school that enriched the eighteenth century habanero, representing 67 personalities of Cuban history.
The Cathedral of Havana - Empedrado 158, is a work of the eighteenth century. Previously, the Main Parish was located in adjacent to the Plaza de Armas ground subsequently given its state of disrepair, she was transferred successively to the Oratorio San Felipe Neri and to the church of the Jesuits, which in 1787 was conferred the Cathedral range.
The building is considered as the greatest exponent of so-called Cuban baroque. They draw attention to the asymmetrical towers, as outside the central facade. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier said that the facade of the cathedral was "music turned to stone." The interior was modified in 1814 under the influence of neoclassical patterns. Sculptures and works of jewelry made in Rome, Italian painter original frescoes and paintings Perovani by the French Jean-Baptiste Vermay beautify the temple.
On the street we enter the Catedral Square - Empedrado, San Ignacio, Mercaderes and Callejón del Chorro streets, the last to settle among the four emblematic squares of the historic area. Originally it was called Plaza de la Ciénaga, by the terrain. It is not until the eighteenth century that acquires special importance with the construction of several mansions of colonial Havana nobility and the Cathedral itself.
Cathedral of Havana. Between 1796 and 1898, before being taken to Seville, the remains of Admiral Cristóbal Colón rested in the Cathedral.
At the back of the Cathedral, with its façade facing Tacón Street and Avenida del Puerto, is the Seminary of San Carlos and San Ambrosio, inaugurated in 1774. In the religious institution were formed the most outstanding Cuban intellectuals of the time. It is currently the headquarters of the Félix Varela Cultural Center.
Palacio del Conde Casa Lombillo, Completed in the mid-eighteenth century, it is unique in having three facades, one facing the Cathedral Square, the main Empedrado No. 51 and the third to the Mercaderes street.
Followed by the Casa del Marqués de Arcos, 1746 - with facades to the Cathedral Square and Mercaderes No. 16, is considered one of the best examples of residential architecture of the eighteenth century. We appreciate the facade from the plaza has a limited five arches on Doric columns portal, one of which, a bronze sculpture representing the Spanish dancer Antonio Gades, lying.
Facades towards the Cathedral Square of the houses of the Marquis of Arcos and the Count of Casa Lombillo. Its extended portals and balconies offer continuity, as if it were a single building.
La Casa del Conde de Casa Bayona, 1720 - Cathedral Square, it houses the Museum of Colonial Art. It has a proportionate and elegant facade and a square courtyard surrounded by massive Tuscan columns.
The Museum of Colonial Art exhibits magnificent collections of Cuban dishes and furniture from the colonial period.
El Callejón del Chorro - San Ignacio and Callejón del Chorro, access to the Plaza de la Catedral. There came a branch of the Royal Zanja whose waters would be used in the first public bathhouse. In the short section is the Experimental Graphic Workshop in Havana, the popular restaurant Doña Eutimia and special candy store Bianchini.
When entering the Callejón del Chorro, a plaque recalls: "THIS AGVA TRAXO THE MAESSE OF JVAN FIELD OF TEXEDA ANNO DE 1592", whose translation is the following: "This water was brought by field teacher Juan de Tejeda in the year 1592 ".
Also in the square, El Patio restaurant occupies what was the Marquis of Aguas Claras House - San Ignacio 54, built in the eighteenth century. Beside the art gallery "Victor Manuel" is.
A few meters down the side of the Museum of Colonial Art, "Piscolabis", San Ignacio No. 75, between O'Reilly and Callejón del Chorro, is a coffee bazaar that offers utilitarian articles - decorative of ingenious design, as well as the possibility Of a brief rest under the pretext of having a cup of tea, coffee or a refreshing drink.
We left the Plaza de la Catedral by Empedrado street in whose corner with San Ignacio, in the former home of the Counts of Peñalver, XVIII century, the Contemporary Art Center Wilfredo Lam, an institution that organizes the Biennial works Havana.
In Empedrado 307, La Bodeguita del Medio, it is one of the most famous restaurants in Havana. The property was owned since 1942 Angel Martinez and he sold typical products and meals were offered. It began to be frequented by writers who came to close to review the status of the publication of his books, to become must-see site of personalities like Gabriela Mistral, Agustin Lara, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, Nicolas Guillen and printers American film artists.
We followed by Stoned, the first street of the town that is stoned with so-called "Chinas pelonas" later replaced by cobblestones.
At Cuba street we turned to the right. This narrow and lively via, makes us walk past the Hotel Palacio O'Farrill - Cuba 102-108 Street, corner of Chacon, who was the residence of the Irish Jose Ricardo O'Farrill and O'Daly, founder of one of the wealthiest families of the time habaneras.
The Bodeguita del Medio. On its walls is recorded the testimony of numerous personalities and guests from all over the world have visited.
Later in Cuba No. 64, the Palace of Arts Crafts occupies a building built in 1780 that belonged to Matthew Alderman Pedroso. The Countess of Merlin lived in this house in 1842.
Palacio de la Artesanía, is not exactly the best place to find handicrafts.
We crossed to the Port Avenue and walked to the mouth of the Bay of Havana. Largely narrow channel that summarizes the history of the city. For centuries and until the advent of commercial aviation, that was the gateway to Havana: the first conquerors, including Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés; countless shiploads of goods and immigrants, privateers and pirates, personalities like Simon Bolivar, Alexander von Humboldt, Garibaldi, Benito Juarez, Sara Bernhardt, Ruben Dario, Winston Churchill, Ana Pavlova, Santos Dumont, Paderewski, Isadora Duncan, Caruso , Valle Inclan, Gabriela Mistral, Mayakovski, Ernest Hemingway, Federico García Lorca, among many illustrious visitors.
Standing on the "tip" in the mouth of the bay, we contemplate on the east bank, on a hill, the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, built between 1589 and 1630. The work was initiated by the known military engineer Bautista Antonelli. The fort has a deep moat and two batteries of the Twelve Apostles and the Pastora. It was rebuilt in the eighteenth century, after the taking and returning of Havana by the English. Morro tower began to be used as a lighthouse since 1764; that at the beginning is lit with firewood, in the early nineteenth century with gas, then oil, and in 1844 the old tower was demolished and another with the then new Fresnel system was inaugurated. Since 1945 the lighthouse is electrified and its signals reach the 50 miles to the aid of navigation.
On our side, on the west bank of the channel of the bay, is the Castle of San Salvador de La Punta, popularly known as Castillo de la Punta. The layout of the fortress dates from the last decades of the sixteenth century.
The Castle of Punta is also a work of the engineer Baptist Antonelli.
Below the Castillo de la Punta, the channel of the bay and Morro Castle, two meters deep seabed, pass the Tunnel of Havana, one of the most important engineering works carried out in Cuba. This underwater tunnel was completed in 1958 and was in charge of the French company Societé des Grands Travaux de Marseille, under the technical direction of Cuban engineer José Menéndez Menéndez.
Map in hand, locate the beginning of the street Aguiar, near the Punta. The first building that rises to the right of the street is the National Museum of Music, with an entrance on the short stretch of street Capdevila. The mansion, which dates back to 1905, welcomes this institution dedicated to exposing the historical development of music and musical instruments in Cuba.
En un parque cercano, delimitado por el Paseo del Prado y la calle Cárcel, se encuentra el Monumento a los Estudiantes de Medicina fusilados en 1871 por el poder colonial, acusados injustamente de profanar la tumba de un connotado español. El templete de estilo griego, erigido en 1901, incluye parte de la pared contra la cual los jóvenes cubanos fueron fusilados
The first block of the street Aguiar is called the Alley of Hairdressers, which has developed a community project hand Gilberto Valladares, known among neighbors and customers as "Papito".
In the block there are several barber shops, some with antique furniture and objects, and opened a small museum shop. We also expect small galleries, artists' studios and several restaurants and cafes with outdoor tables. Among the restaurants, the Cafe des Arts de Aguiar fine dining in a cozy, bohemian space.
Café de las Artes de Aguiar, in Calle Aguiar No. 22, a paladar - restaurant with friendly attention and good cuisine.
We continue the tour Aguiar to the street Cuarteles and up to the Plazuela del Angel, which owes its name to the century-old Church of the Holy Guardian Angel, where they were baptized Felix Varela and national hero José Martí, organizer of the last war for independence of Cuba.
The Plazuela del Angel and the temple, scene of the most famous Cuban novel of the XIX century "Cecilia Valdés or the Loma del Ángel", work of the writer Cirilo Villaverde.
See post "Tras las huellas de Cecilia Valdés"
A few meters in front of the Museum of the Revolution remains of the Wall of Havana, which was an extension of nearly 5 km, an average thickness of 1.40 meters tall and 10 appreciated. Its demolition began in 1863 and lasted until late in the nineteenth century.
On Avenida de las Misiones and Refugio Street, it is possible to observe what was the Angel's Wall Baluster.
The tour continues down the street Zulueta to find the Memorial Granma, where the eponymous yacht in which Fidel Castro and other fighters of the July 26th Movement came as expeditionary the Cuban eastern shores to start in 1956 the second phase of the insurrection is preserved against the dictator Fulgencio Batista.
And then on the street Trocadero between Zulueta and Monserrate, we expect the building of the Cuban collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts. With about 7,600 square meters, the museum displays more than 1200 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, providing a complete picture of national art from the early visions of travelers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the work of contemporary artists.
On one side of the Church of the Angel, arrived to the Museum of the Revolution gathers materials and collections relating to the Cuban revolution. The building, opened in 1920, hosted the Presidential Palace and the befell republished important facts of history.
The interior decoration of the former Presidential Palace was run by Tiffany Studios. Its floors and stairs were covered with Carrara marble.
The building of the National Museum of Fine Arts (Cuban Art Building), inaugurated in 1954, was built under the canons of rationalism and architectural modernism of the 1950s.
In the Trocadero street itself, but between Zulueta and Paseo del Prado, you can visit the Hotel Sevilla, with over one hundred years of existence
While in Zulueta corner Animas, a block in the direction of Central Park, Sloppy Joes Bar invites refreshing drink. For decades, this was one of the very frequented by British writer Graham Green, who took him to his novel "Our Man in Havana" as usual space of one of its protagonists emblematic bars of Havana. In the novel, Greene says: "No habanero went to Sloppy Joe because it was a place for tourists". The bar retains its large bar of more than 20 meters, which appears in the film "Our Man in Havana", filmed in 1959 and starring Alec Guinness.
On the Monserrate street and San Juan de Dios, rose in 1930 Barcardí Building as the headquarters of the Bacardi company. Art Deco building is an architectural gem of the time.
From Monserrate we take right on Neptuno street and we will be in Central Park again. To finish this first tour through Old Havana, I suggest walking "Prado abajo", that is, taking the Paseo de José Martí in the direction of the Malecón, as if we are walking on our steps, without haste, and do what innumerable generations of habaneros since Mid-nineteenth century, in which the Paseo del Prado became the center of Havana: "see and let see".
The Bacardí Building has a small and intimate bar for the visitor.
Lic. Angel Pérez & Arq. Antonio Cuan
Recorridos por La Habana is a courtesy of Angel Habana Hostel for its guests, and for all travelers who have selected this city as a tourist destination.
Angel Habana Hostel, more than a hotel, your home in Havana, Cuba
3rd Street No. 574, apartment 4, between 8 and 10, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba.