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Top Rated Attractions in Havana

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The Malecón in Havana spans 8 kilometers (5 miles) along the gorgeous Cuban coast. It begins in Old Havana, running through the Centro Habana neighborhood, and ends in the central business district in Vedado. Although the Malecón began construction at the turn of the 20th century to protect the city from the surrounding water, it has always served primarily as a cultural attraction for promenaders and social groups. Stroll along the bay with a view of the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro or skirt the edge of the Vedado district and its many attractions. No matter where on this local landmark you end up, the Malecón provides a charming setting where you can get to know the Cuban capital and fill your lungs with fresh sea air.

Morro Castle

Spanish colonists constructed this fort next to Havana Harbor in 1589 to ward off attacks from pirates and enemy fleets. It has since become one of the city's most iconic monuments in the historic city of Havana. The gripping history of Morro Castle chronicles its heroic albeit unsuccessful defense against British invaders in 1762, its return to the Spanish army after the two parties signed a treaty, and the construction of a lighthouse in 1846, which now stands proudly as the fort's most famous attraction. Formidable cannons, a dry moat, and a turret offering panoramic views are fortress' popular features. A grand fortress, Morro Castle watches over both the sea and the city, attracting visitors who relish in doing the same.

Parque Central

Framed by majestic early 19th-century structures, Parque Central is one of the best places in Havana to survey the local scene. Must-visit attractions surrounding this square include the Gran Teatro de la Habana, Museo de Bellas Artes, and historic Hotel Inglaterra. Dotted with royal palms and other trees, providing a nicely landscaped rest stop for passersby. Tourists and locals alike seek the park as a place to relax or a venue for social events where enjoying a drink, listening to music wafting over from local clubs, and people watching are all popular activities. One thing is certainly true: you haven't seen Havana until you've experienced Parque Central.

Colon Cemetery

The beauty and magnificence of this cemetery has made it famous throughout the nation. Established in 1876 on top of the Espada Cemetery, the Colon Cemetery holds nearly a million graves, many of whose headstones have been embellished by major Cuban sculptors like Ramos Blancos. Visitors may notice colorfully dressed rag dolls lying next to graves when touring this impressive cemetery. These are placed as offerings to various deities in an Afro-Cuban religious practice known as "santería" common throughout the island. Offering a unique perspective on Cuban culture, the Colon Cemetery is of great historical and local value.

Basílica Menor de San Francisco de Asís

Located in an old convent dating back to 1734, this is a combination of both museum and church. The spacious building itself is a wonderful example of 18th-century architecture, with a display that includes many old paintings, some of which come from abroad. There are a number of religious statues and artifacts, and thanks to excavations near the main entrance, visitors can now see the catacombs that lie beneath the church. There are two items in the collection deemed of prime importance: a crystal statue of Jesus given to Fidel Castro by Mother Teresa, and a set of chairs used by Mr Castro and Pope John Paul II when he visited Cuba.

Havana Cathedral

A fine example of 18th-century ecclesiastical architectural, Havana Cathedral has a facade full of columns, niches, and other baroque embellishments that stand in contrast to the asymmetry of its spires. Jesuit priests inhabited the site until their eviction in 1789, at which time the building was consecrated as Havana Cathedral. Inside the holy site are copies of paintings by Rubens and Murillo on the alters, and at the top end of the choir section, frescoes by Italian artist Giuseppe Perovanni are visible. There is also a finely crafted sculpture of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of Havana, dating back to 1632 found inside. Beyond its artistic and architectural significance, this cathedral housed some of Christopher Columbus's remains between 1796 and 1898, making it a site of great historical important. Stop by the Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana to see this venerable landmark in person.

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