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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located within a monumental modern building, once home to The Havana Auditorium, the venue now consists of the Amadeo Roldán and García Caturla halls, offering symphonic orchestras, piano recitals, and a mixture of classical and contemporary music. This is also home to the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, and prestigious international events are held here such as the "Encuentro Internacional de Guitarra" (International Guitar Gathering).
The remains of the historic city wall in Old Havana are imposing relics of the city's extraordinary colonial past. Originally intended as a defense against marauding pirates and corsairs, the wall was designed to encircle the city with an impenetrable barrier, the doors of which would close at a certain hour. Nevertheless, the wall could not stop vibrant Havana from extending beyond its boundaries. After the partial demolishment of the wall in 1603, there are only a few sections left intact, one of which is now a celebrated landmark in front of the Museum of the Revolution. Other notable sections include the remaining "Puerto del Arsenal," "Garitas del Angel," and "La Maestranza."
Located a short drive away from central Havana, Estudio Taller Santacana is a lovely gallery featuring the works of local artist Beatriz Sala Santacana. The place has a charming interior that's filled with unique pieces created with a deeper thought process. Ceramics are Beatriz's forte, and the gallery displays a number of sculptures for you to choose from. The place's layout lets patrons browse the collection peacefully, and the artist herself is available on site to entertain your queries, on most occasions. In addition to art, at Estudio Taller Santacana there are smaller articles like jewelry pieces, etc. that make great souvenirs.
It is named after revolutionary hero and dissident Julio Antonio Mella, assassinated in Mexico in 1929 under orders of then Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado. This is a modern building with a conventional stage and seating for 1475 attendees. It hosts a variety of shows, from cabaret to recitals as well as theatre performances. The venue is also home to the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional (National Folk Group), which organises a "peña" or folk club ever Saturday from 3pm onwards. In the theatre's foyer there is a small gallery displaying work by Tina Modotti, famous Italian photographer and communist, and companion to Julio Mella up until his premature demise. Shows: Friday-Saturday 8:30 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m.
Bare stone, fitted together in blocks, forms walls and columns that enclose the arcades, preserving the palace's old-fashioned air. This particular building, apart from having been one of the biggest colonial structures of its time, was also Havana Town Hall for 176 years. The main courtyard and galleries on two levels, lead to different display rooms in what is now the City Museum; tours begin with a visit to the old Council Chamber and the palace quarters, and end in exhibition rooms that depict the War of Independence from Spain, and the early years of the Republic.