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THIS IS HAVANA!



THIS IS HAVANA!

LA HABANA, CUBA

The Town of San Cristobal of Havana, La Habana in Spanish, will be celebrating the five-hundredth anniversary of its founding in November 2019. Celebrations, festivities and other projects are being programmed around the historic date. The first phase of the celebratory campaign, which has been titled Royal & Marvelous Havana, has already begun.

This special supplement to our blog will be dedicated to the five-hundredth birthday of Havana and will include some of the interesting stories of the city and its residents, and hopefully through them I can seduce you to visit her before her five-hundredth birthday celebration.

THE GENTLEMAN FROM PARIS

The Plaza of St. Francis of Assis is visited by hundreds of people every day, it is probably the busiest of the five plazas of Old Havana. But this story isn’t about the Catholic Church that gives the plaza its name, or the tourists who congregate here every day. It’s about the statue that stands in front of the entrance to the church.

Many say he was crazy!

He was crazy, at least towards the end of his life he certainly was. He would spend his days in Old Havana passing out slips of paper or pieces of cloth, other times he passed out flowers or plastic spoons! In Havana he’s known as El Cabellero de Paris.

The Gentleman from Paris is without a doubt one of Havana’s most famous and mentioned residents. His real name was Josee Maria Lopez Lledin and he was born in Lugo, Spain in 1899. He arrived in Cuba when he was fifteen years-old, as hundreds of thousands of Spaniards did in those early years of the twentieth-century, and he had several jobs over the course his life. It is said that he was unjustly imprisoned and that he was unstable by the time he was released. There are various versions of the story explaining why he was jailed, but the common thread between them all is that he was innocent.

As a historic character he is always wearing a black suit, slightly disheveled, with a beard and long, graying hair.

Several generations of Cubans, both on the island and off, tell stories about him. And he is rarely alone. Twenty-four hours a day there are people standing next to his statue and for a photo.

His smiling statue smiles because he is not alone, he smiles because he was crazy, but in Cuba he is still a gentleman.

By Dina GomGar


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