A Historical Tour of Havana

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by paul

If your resort is close enough to Havana, it is worth while breaking away from the beach for a day to check out the historical center of the capital city. Not only is it the capital of the country, but it is a major port and leading commercial center of Cuba.

Historical Background:

Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due to its strategic location it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest. In 1592, the Spaniards began building fortifications in the capital. Before long, the port had become the most important in the Spanish colonial empire. The 17th and 18th centuries saw Havana grow steadily in wealth and size.

Havana’s growth has been essentially frozen in the wake of the 1959 revolution. Decades of economic crisis and shortages have left much of Havana in severe decay and decomposition. The great exception is the city center known as La Habana Vieja, where parts have been meticulously restored to much of its colonial glory. The original fortifications that have been resorted are really something to see, along with the contrast of the rest of the decaying city.

Main Attractions:

  • Plaza Vieja – Was the sight of executions, processions, bullfights and fiestas, all witnessed by Havana’s wealthiest citizens who looked on from their balconies.
  • Old Havana – Old Havana contains the core of the original city of Havana. The positions of the original Havana city walls are the modern boundaries of Old Havana. Here are the main sights in Old Havana:
  • Malecon – The avenue that runs along the seawall at the northern shore of Havana.
  • Castillo del Morro – A fortress that guards the entrance to Havana Bay
  • La Cabana – A fortress on the east of Havana Bay, known to be the most impressive fortress in Cuba.
  • San Salvador de la Punta Fortress– A fortress on the shore opposite to Castillo del Morro.
  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza– The Castle of the Royal Arms is located in the Plaza de las Armas in the city.
  • Catedral de San Cristobal– A large chapel known as the most prominent building on the Plaza de la Catedral.
  • Plaza de Armas – This is the main tourist square. Since the end of the 16th century, military ceremonies took place here.
  • San Francisco de la Habana Basilica – This church was originally constructed in 1608 and reconstructed in 1737.

There are several hotels and resorts that offer daytrips to the city of Havana. If you are intrigued by beautiful Spanish architecture, vibrant city streets, markets and museums, then it is well worth your time to venture into the city for a day and enjoy the rich history of Havana, Cuba.


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