Cuba: STROLLING THE OLD HAVANA (6)

Okay, we took a break at the beach in the last Glimpse and hope you are now ready for a walk and all those “things to do in Havana”. There is so much to see in the city and I was actually hopping on the bus every once in a while, since there were daily rides from my Varadero hotel. Just packed few sweets, coins, my guide book and a camera and I was once again peeking behind another colonial building!

Strolling the Old Havana, Glimpses of The World_opt

Old Havana sights

You have probably seen pictures of the Malecon Havana promenade, which is a must when you travel to Cuba. It’s the 7 kilometers long seafront area, which can be splashed by the waves on stormy days, and where locals meet, sit, swim, fish – overlooked by the sea on one side, and buildings of various architecture on the other. Malecon is famous for great sunset views. And strolling along this boulevard, it’s easy to reach the Habana Vieja (Old Town), declared as part of cultural heritage of mankind by UNESCO in 1982.

Fascinating heritage at every corner, Glimpses of The World

Fascinating heritage at every corner

Plaza de la Catedral

This is the largest Colonial center in Latin America and it’s characterized by Hispanic-Andalusian architecture. The best way to explore it is by foot, of course. I came down to Plaza de la Catedral which seemed like a great place to start. Aristocratic buildings and present-day Cathedral were built in the 18th century. Here you will come across colonial costume lady who strolls under the arcades and offers to “read your fortune”.

Catedral de San Cristobal de La Habana, Glimpses of The World_opt

Catedral de San Cristobal de La Habana

The Cathedral was renamed in 1796 as Catedral de San Cristobal de La Habana because, according to popular belief, from that year until 1898 it actually housed the relics of Christopher Columbus himself. The Cuban Baroque facade is grandiose with two large bell towers and an abundance of columns. There is a huge wooden statue of St Christopher.

In front of the City Museum, Glimpses of The World_opt

In front of the City Museum

Charming architecture

There are few lovely buildings at the Plaza. You will find Palacio de los Marqueses de Arcos, built in 1700s, with an art gallery. It was once the main post office and you can still see the original letter box on the outside wall. Then, there is Museo de Arte Colonial, another beautiful building with blue doors and windows, that houses an exhibition of Colonial furniture and objects.

The building known as El Templete, Glimpses of The World_opt

The building known as El Templete

On the left of the Cathedral there is the famous La Bodeguita del Medio restaurant (more about it in one of the previous Glimpses!), but also Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras. There is a bar restaurant in the inner courtyard and in the square, and it bears a French feel. This was actually the place where the well-known Paris Restaurant used to be in the 1900s.

Entertainment group at Plaza de Armas, Glimpses of The World_opt

Entertainment group at Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

When you go to the right, towards Plaza de Armas, you will soon reach Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the 16th century castle with its broad moat. (I took so many pictures here!) The castle is built to protect the city from pirate attacks, but since it was too far inside the bay, it later became residence of governors. In 1634 a weather vane known as La Giraldilla was places on the lookout tower, which soon became the symbol of Havana.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Glimpses of The World_opt

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

There is a nice park in the Plaza. When you turn right you will see the building resembling a temple. That is El Templete which stands on the spot where, according to legend, the city of San Cristobal de la Habana was founded in 1599. On the left, there is the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, now Museo de la Ciudad. This baroque palace was built for Cuba’s old Colonial rulers. There is the statue of Columbus in the courtyard.

La Giraldilla on the top of the tower, Glimspes of The World_opt

La Giraldilla on the top of the tower

Calle Obispo

If you go by this building and continue along Calle Obispo (the Bishop Street where city bishop resided once), you will still have that feeling of an open-air museum because of the Colonial architecture dating back to 16th to 19th century.

Magnificent decorations of Casa de la Obra Pia, Glimpses of The World_opt

Magnificent decorations of Casa de la Obra Pia

Here, you will also see few old shops, the old pharmacy, you will pass by the Ambos Mundos Hotel we have mentioned in the Glimpse about Ernest Hemingway’s time in Cuba etc. You will come across an interesting old letter box shaped as a man’s face with an open mouth for letters to be put in.

Villa's vast courtyard, Glimpses of The World_opt

Villa’s vast courtyard

Around the block and you will find one beautiful 17th century mansion, known for its Baroque doorway, reputedly sculpted in Spain – Casa de la Obra Pia (Charity House). Nobleman who lived here in the 17th century gave a dowry every year to five orphan girls for them to get married or enter a convent. The house is so pretty with its luxurious rooms and yellow walls. Not far from there, there is Casa de los Arabes, another charming building with typical Moorish courtyard.

Charming old colonial furniture, Glimpses of The World_opt

Charming old colonial furniture

Just take a pick, I’m sure you would love every one of those places. And there’s more, wait till we get to Centro Habana in the next Glimpse!

Next: THE CAPITOL AND THE REVOLUTION (7)

Glimpses of Cuba 6, Pinterest, Glimpses of The World

Glimpses of Cuba 6a, Pinterest, Glimpses of The World

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28 thoughts on “Cuba: STROLLING THE OLD HAVANA (6)

  1. The church and the house architecture—stone construction, balusters, shingles, etc.—has similarities to Spanish architecture, which is also predominant here in the Philippines. It’s no wonder because, If I remember my history correctly, Cuba was once a colony of Spain just like the Philippines. I think we’ll feel right at home in Cuba. Hehehe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the architecture of la Havana – all the pictures I see are just lovely and I would so much like to visit! – a shame it is so far from us though! our travels need to take us west wards.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The architecture is really fascinating, particularly of the church and those old buildings. I love to visit places like these , particularly by making my own walking tour. I will like to visit cuba and particularly the old parts of it like the one you have shown here

    Liked by 1 person

    • Habana Vieja would be perfect for you then! The whole area is full of old architecture, charming terraces and windows, pedestrian streets. And you can take a walk through the neighborhood, it’s more than pleasant.
      Would like to hear your impressions when you do visit. 🙂

      Like

  4. The stunning architecture of the Old Havana is really something to be in awe of. The facade of the Cathedral and the Castello is just stunning, I would love to explore them. The street are so vibrant and oozes an old world charm with its beautiful windows and colourful buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

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