Published October 2019
There’s plenty to see in the Cuban capital: the Spanish-style manors from the colonial era; the Baroque varieties; the influence of European Neoclassicism; the soberness of post-revolution Cuba... In fact, its urban profile has remained virtually unaltered since the 1980s. As such, walking through the streets is more than just a stroll: it’s a trip through different eras and styles.
Check out six architecture works that reveal the Habanera beauty:
Founded in 1838, it was renovated to become the headquarters of the Cuban National Ballet – as such, it has great acoustics. The building with exuberant neo-Baroque features is located at Plaza de la Revolución, one of the largest plazas in the world, with an area of 753,475 ft2 [70,000 m²]. It’s so big that it’s also home to other impressive structures, like Ministerio del Interior, with straight angles, and Teatro Nacional de Cuba, in Modernist style.
Paseo de Martí, 458
Yes, you’ve seen this building before. The National Assembly of People’s Power is very similar to the United States Capitol, one of the postcard sights in Washington; but it was actually inspired by the Paris Pantheon. Its Neoclassical beauty, with a 13-foot [4 m] dome and Greek columns in the façade, welcomes tourists on guided tours. Notice its particular design, with patios that allow for the wind to flow through to soothe the Caribbean heat.
Paseo de Martí
It’s the main jewel of Cuban Baroque, built in 1792, on the west side of Plaza de Armas. It has served different purposes, from residence to Havana governors (hence the name) to city hall building. It’s currently home to the Museo de la Ciudad, which has colonial decorations and important objects on display to help visitors understand the history of the capital.
If you’re looking for a special view of the sunset, head to this fortress with irregular demarcations, adapting its walls to the stretch of land that juts out into the Caribbean Sea. Built in the 16th century, almost 100 years after the arrival of the Europeans, it was the main defense point until the construction of the Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña, in the Havana Bay.
Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña
A Spanish colonial heritage, the houses in the central neighborhood of Habana Vieja are famous for lending a vintage air to the city, combined with the old cars in the streets. They stand out for their colorful façades in Moorish style, but hide sunlit terraces. Their large windows, protected by balconies, are another tropical touch in the architecture.
Paseo de Martí esquina Dragones
The structure built in the 16th century is a church and also home to the Museo de Arte Religioso. You can go up to the tower to see the port on the horizon, with boats setting sail from Terminal Sierra Maestra. In addition, there’s plenty to see in Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, like Lonja del Comercio, the old stock exchange; and Fuente de Los Leones, which stands out for its white marble.
Plaza de San Francisco de Asís