Take a drive in your best dress and your 1950’s Chevy along the eight-kilometer Malecon, with the waning afternoon sun in the rear view mirror and the intoxicating sea air rolling in with the waves. Cuba’s capital city Havana is the nation’s largest city and located just 90-miles south of Key West with fifteen different municipalities each carrying with it distinct and colorful neighborhoods. The entire city is steeped in colonial history and celebrates its culture with landmarks anywhere from castles, to cathedrals, mansions and museums. Then there’s UNESCO World Heritage site Vieja Habana, otherwise known as Old Havana, giving Havana over 900-wonderful places to see.
1. Capitolio Nacional
Inspire yourself and let the Caribbean rhythm overtake you while spending a leisurely day wandering the city of Havana. Home to the Academy of Sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology since 1959, the Capitolio Nacional gives the US Capitol Building a run for its money. The grandiose building is rich in detail so be sure to take a moment to just feel the buildings immensity. Walk along the Salon de los Pasos Perdidos (the Room of the Lost Steps) where the room’s unique acoustics lead visitors to the state of the republic.
Photo courtesy | Advencap
2. Old Havana
From here wander the tree-lined streets of Paseo del Prado where arched colonial buildings cast haunting shadows in the twilight and salsa dancers mingle with tourists as they take in the fortified section of the city known as Old Havana. A twenty-minute walk from the Capitolo Nacional, Old Havana has dozens of landmarks worth checking out. One that oozes charm is La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada de La Habana, or Havana Cathedral for short. One of 11 Roman Catholic cathedrals on the island of Cuba, this one was once described as “music set in stone”.
Photo courtesy | Mark McCulloch
West of central Havana, about a half hour drive, in the neighborhood of Jaimanitas, Cuban artist Jose Fuster has turned his hometown into a living masterpiece. Tiles, turrets and Barcelona-worthy beauty come together at the Taller-Estudio where Fuster works. A project that has lasted over 20 years visitors need to see for themselves. Paying homage to Picasso and Gaudi, what has become known as Fusterlandia unveils itself over a fantastical mish-mash of fountains, azure pools, and endless stairways. The explosion of color and magical art that covers the area is something to see!
Photo courtesy | Joe Ross
4. The Malecon
End the day on the beach, as all days should end. The Malecon glitters in the evening sun as all around the gorgeous time capsule of Havana unfolds before your very eyes. Originally a ocean-side boulevard, the roadway has since expanded, bringing with it a patchwork of eclectic neoclassical and art nouveau architecture and now stands as a six-lane highway stretching from the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta, all the way to the borders of Miramar. The city’s ‘cabaret of the poor’ is the melting pot for Cuban’s to meet, greet, date, debate, and just be merry. Welcome to Havana!
Photo courtesy | Filipe Castilhos