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TRIP TO CUBA 2020-OLD HAVANA





Old Havana folklore













TRIP TO CUBA OLD HAVANA

HISTORY & GUIDE TO OLD HAVANA


Old Havana is the colonial heart of Havana and Cuba, and the most visited site on the island. Havana was founded in 1519 and just celebrated its five hundredth anniversary. The area that today defines Old Havana covers just under two square miles and encompasses the area Havana that was within the city walls in colonial times, today known to Cubans as Havana entre muros, between walls. The city walls were closed at nine in the evening and a cannon blast would announce the closing. The maximum elevation of Old Havana is one-hundred-sixty feet and the city was built around the natural harbor that offer protection to Spanish ships.


In 1555 Havana was burned by pirates who failed to capture the city’s treasure, and three years later the Castillo de la Real Fuerza fort was constructed at the entrance to the harbor, and in 1587 construction of the Castillo del Morro fortress commenced. In 1590 the small San Salvador de la Punta fortress was built across from El Morro at the harbor’s entrance, and eventually a large copper chain would attach the two structures and prevent any corsairs from entering the harbor at night.


Many events took place in Havana between the early colonial period and the twentieth century, but we’ll deal with those in another blog. In 1982 Old Havana is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapses the Cuban communist party finds itself without the patron that had sustained its’ economy for thirty years. The government decides to reignite the island’s abandoned tourist industry and the restoration of Old Havana begins in earnest.


THINGS TO DO IN OLD HAVANA


Old Havana is a great place to people watch and depending on when you travel, you’ll see lots of tourists or hardly any. In the summer the area is mostly tourist free and, in the winter and spring it has many tourists. Among the standout places to visit in Old Havana are the Museo de Bellas Artes (National Branch), the former presidential palace which houses the Museum of the Revolution, the previously mentioned fortresses Castillo de la Real Fuerza, and San Salvador de la Punta, and of course Hemingway’s haunts, the Ambos Mundos Hotel, and the Floridita and Bodeguita del Medio bars. The colonial era 9pm cannon blast is recreated nightly at El Morro and the blast can be heard throughout Old Havana.


Old Havana is the largest surviving colonial area that is intact and houses man, it is the living heart that is still impressive after the neglect of the post-revolutionary era.


By Frank Gonzalez


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