Havana: the wonder & capital of all Cubans

Havana is the name of the capital of the Republic of Cuba. Before 2010, there were two provinces with almost identical names: Ciudad de La Habana and Habana, which caused a lot of confusion, especially for international tourism. The province of Havana used to be home to the municipios of the rural area, although the provincial headquarters of most of its institutions were located in the capital of the country. In the National Assembly of the Poder Popular (People's Power) of 2010, a new political-administrative division of the country was approved, in which it was agreed that the capital will resume its old name La Habana "Havana". With this, the capital resumes its usual name and was administratively divided into 15 municipios. The new provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque have also been created.

Geographical description of Havana

The present-day province of Havana, the nation's capital, is located on the northwest coast. It is bordered on the north by the Strait of Florida, on the east and part of the south by the province of Artemisa, and on the southwest and west by the province of Mayabeque. 2 It occupies the sixteenth expansion place in Cuba with 726 km2 and accounts for 0.7 percent of the country's total area.

According to the 2016 census, it had a population of 2.130.081 inhabitants, with a population density of 2.947,74 inhabitants / km². It is still the smallest province in Cuba, but the most densely populated in the island Caribbean. There is no more populous city in the Antilles than Havana. The most populous municipios in the Cuban capital are Habana Vieja (the old town), Diez de Octubre and Playa.

Its territory is relatively flat, although some elevations are found in the alturas Havana – Matanzas. The highest elevation is called Tetas de Managua and is 210 meters high. All coasts are located on the north coast.

What is the origin of Havana?

There are three hypotheses about the origin of Havana, and these are the following:

  1. It derives its name from a TaIno-Cacique named Habaguanex, who had complete control over the area where the first settlement was established in April 1514. This settlement was located on the southern coast of what is now the province of Mayabeque, at the mouth of the Onicaxinal River, in the village of Surgidero de Batabano, in the west of the island.
  2. This is a second settlement in La Chorrera, on the river Almendares.
  3. The final founding of the city was in the place where El Templete is located today. This development was given the name San Cristobal de La Habana and was opened on 16. November 1519 founded in honor of the Spanish kings. This designation is a combination of the patron saint "San Cristobal" and the name of the first settlement: "Havana". San Cristobal de La Habana was the last city founded by the Spaniards and due to its geographical location it quickly became the most important villa in Cuba.

The capital of the country was located in the city of Santiago de Cuba since the beginning of the colonial period, but from 1556 all its functions were transferred to the city of Havana.

Havana has been a national monument since 1976 due to the architectural and cultural richness of the Spanish colony of 16. Century, who is appreciated in the whole city.

Unesco awarded the city of Havana the category of "Cultural Heritage of Humanity" in 1982, and therefore hundreds of thousands of vacationers visit the city because they are eager to get to know it. They develop here not only a city tourism, but also a great cultural tourism, since here are located innumerable institutions in which all manifestations of art, literature, dance and theater are manifested. In Havana, culture and history are mixed in the different palaces, colonial mansions, squares, paved streets, churches, old fortresses and in its ancient walls.

The weather in Havana

In the city of Havana, the tropical climate prevails with cooler temperatures, the same as in the other Cuban regions, due to the influence of the Gulf Stream (from Mexico). Rainfall is regular during the rainy season between May and October. The average temperature is 24,9 ° C. The hottest month is August with an average temperature of 27.6 ° C and the coldest months are January and February with an average temperature of 21.9 ° C. It is the best date to travel to Havana and all of Cuba.

Havana – Tips & Sights

A suggestion for a trip to Cuba is, of course, Havana, since it is the main tourist center of the country. Hundreds of thousands of visitors every year want to know this wonder city.

An important tourist attraction in Havana are the beautiful beaches, which are known as Playas del Este. In Santa MarIa, Guanabo and other coastal areas east of the capital, tourists can enjoy excellent sun and beach tourism all year round. Here you can find excellent hotels and private houses with all comforts to enjoy an unforgettable stay on beaches with fine sand and bright sunshine.

From Havana tourists can also make excellent day trips. With a cab or rental car you can enjoy the most beautiful nature of Cuba in Vinales National Park or the most beautiful beach of the country: Varadero. It only depends on a proper planning!.

The main tourist attraction of the vacationers is to visit the old buildings and the cultural, historical and tourist facilities of the Old Town. The construction of the great city began here and today it is one of the best preserved architectural ensembles in the Americas. The office of the city historian and its director, the Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, have worked hard to preserve the colonial architectural heritage. The visitors do not get tired of reflecting on the sights of the old town.

The historical center is one of the most attractive sights on the American continent and has one of the highest demand of tourists.

Thousands of vacationers want to spend a few days in this part of the city and stay in one of the different hotels or private houses. In the old town, tourists have the opportunity to personally experience the colonial history of the city from its founding until today.

Where is the most beautiful place in Havana?

There are several attractions that tourists will want to know and visit during their stay in the Cuban capital. The most requested tips are the following:

Capitolio de La Habana.

capitolio de la habana

It is one of the most visited buildings. It resembles the Washington Capitol, but it is one meter higher, one meter wider and one meter longer. The construction was completed in 1929. Here met the Senate and the House of Representatives of neocolonial Cuba. Since 1959, it was the headquarters of the Cuban Academy of Science, but after the completion of the reconstruction of the capital in 2019, it became the headquarters of the Cuban Parliament. In the center of the Hall of the Pasos Perdidos is the statue of the Republic.

Parque Central of Havana.

parque central de la habana

This is one of the most popular sites for domestic and foreign visitors. This place is divided into four basic sections: the Paseo del Prado, the Parque Central, the Capitol Explanade and the Plaza (Parque de la Fraternidad). In full, we find important cultural and tourist facilities such as the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, the Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Parque Central, the Payret Cinema, the modern Kempinski Hotel in the Manzana de Gomez, the Plaza Hotel, etc. Here stands the first statue of the national hero Jose MartI erected in Cuba.

Paseo del Prado.

paseo del prado

El Prado is a large one-way street with a huge park in the middle that extends from Neptuno Street to Malecon. It has a pedestrian street called Paseo del Prado with 200 years of history. Eight statues with bronze lion figures were erected here. That is why it is also known as Parque de los Leones. On both sides of the avenue are also important tourist buildings like the Packard Hotel and at the end of the avenue the most modern hotel in Cuba: the Paseo del Prado with a 5 star plus category.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza.

castillo de la fuerza

It is located in the Plaza de Armas in the historic center of the Cuban capital. Construction began at the beginning of the second half of the 16th century. Century. On the top of the tower there is a reproduction of the Giraldilla, an icon of the city. The construction began in the 50's of the 16. The siege lasted almost twenty years and lasted until the end of the nineteenth century. At that time it was one of the best military fortresses in America. Today it is an important museum in the old town, which displays various objects from the history of shipping and shipbuilding in Cuba, as well as a model of the fortress based on a 1691 plan of the Plaza de Armas and its surroundings.

El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro.

castillo del morro

Construction began in 1589 and was completed in 1630. It was built on the reefs at the entrance of the bay, so its polygonal structure is quite irregular. It was one of the most important military fortresses of the time and offered the city great protection. In addition, a powerful lighthouse was built here to control navigation over a long distance from the Cuban coastline. Currently, the International Book Fair is located here, which takes place once a year.

Castillo de San Salvador de La Punta.

castillo de la punta

It is popularly known as La Punta. It was built at the entrance of Havana Bay to cross the fire with the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro and block the entrance of enemy ships into the bay. This building was part of the first defense system Havana had along with the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, which is why these three fortifications appear on the city's coat of arms. In 1982 it was declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana.

fortalezas san carlos de la cabana

Havana was taken by the English in 1762 and this showed the vulnerability of the different fortresses of the city when the Castillo del Morro and the heights of La Cabana were besieged. That's why its construction began in 1763 and was completed in 1774. It was the largest fortress in America. It was named in honor of the Spanish King Carlos III. Here is the Parque Historico Morro – Cabana. Here develops one of the most visited traditions: the 9 o'clock cannon shot, which warned the closing of the city during the colonial period.

La Plaza de Armas.

plaza de armas

It was the first square built in 1519 and was the main point of the city. On it were the seats of the civil and military authorities in the colonial period and also the parish church of the city. It was a small plaza where houses were built and everything that was necessary for the development of the incipient city. Due to its proximity to the bay, it has always been developed and in 1558 it was extended even more. Currently, it is a recreational area where the monument of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the father of the fatherland, is located.

La Plaza de la Catedral.

plaza de la catedral de la habana

Esta fue la última de las principales plazas en la zona. En la segunda mitad del siglo XVI se le llamo "plaza de la Cienaga" porque a ella llegaban las aguas que corrIan a lo largo de la villa para desembocar al mar y se anegaba con las mareas. Con el tiempo el terreno se fue secando y se comenzaron a construir viviendas en los alrededores de la iglesia, y en el siglo XVIII familias adineradas construyeron lujosas residencias y la plaza se fue convirtiendo en uno de los lugares mas importantes de la ciudad. La presencia y las condiciones cambiaron y comenzo a llamarsele Plaza de la Catedral.

La plaza Vieja.

plaza vieja de la habana

It was originally called Plaza Nueva and was built in 1559. It was originally used for the market and for public festivities. It was a residential area for the richest families of the colony and in this plaza today we find a colonial architectural heritage from the 17th century. Century until the first decades of the 20th. Century. In the 1980s it was restored in collaboration with the City Historian's Office. On it are important cultural and tourist facilities. This plaza has a high demand for national and international tourism.

La Plaza de San Francisco.

plaza san francisco de asIs

It owes its name to the Franciscan monastery that was built on the square in 1575. The area in which it was built was completed in 1628 and is a proof of the growth of the city and the increase of its population. It got some changes over time and currently is surrounded by important buildings, mainly the church of San Francisco de AsIs. Its privileged location on the shores of the bay made it an important commercial center since colonial times. The lion fountain highlights its beauty.

La Plaza del Cristo.

plaza del cristo

It took its name from the church Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje. In the colony, it was traditional for sailors to come to the image of Christ to invoke Him before departure or to thank Him upon arrival for protection from possible contingencies that might arise during their travels. It was built in 1640 and a hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of Good Voyage was built in its area. Its location favored the culmination of the Via Crucis ceremony that crossed the city from east to west.

Malecon habanero.

malecon habanero

It is a 7 km long wall, which protects the six-lane avenue from the strong attacks of the sea. The construction took about 50 years and was done in several stages. At the beginning it was called Avenida del Golfo, but it has always dominated the popular voice when it was called "El Malecon Habanero". It is a place to enjoy the beauty of the sea and the passage of boats and where thousands of people cool themselves with the sea breeze of the hot hours of the day and night.

Plaza de la Revolucion Jose MartI.

It is an esplanade of great historical and cultural value in the Cuban capital, where important acts and events have been celebrated. Its first name was Plaza CIvica, which until 16. July 1961. Here is the Jose MartI Memorial, whose monument is the highest point in the city with a total height of 141.9 meters to the lighthouses and flags. The statue of Jose MartI was erected in 1958 and is surrounded by six columns representing the old six provinces, how Cuban land was divided at the time.

Undoubtedly, Havana is an important option to enjoy city tourism in all its glory in Cuba. But also its rich colonial history and the presence of a profound transculturation process offer the tourist all the possibilities to turn also to an excellent cultural tourism. In Havana, the roots of the Aborigines, Hispanics, Africans and Asians mix and create what is truly Cuban. The Cuban nationality is a true Ajiaco, as Fernando Ortiz said it well. Havana as a wonder city is the first tourist attraction in Cuba and one of the most important in the Caribbean.