Havana travel information
Havana, the Cuban capital is located on the north coast of the island with the same name.
Cuba is a conglomerate when it comes to architecture: tourists can see a mixture of modern skyscrapers with the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish baroque architecture and the neoclassical style illustrated in the architecture of the dome of the Capitolio, a copy of the U.S. Capitol.
From the variety of cultures that have interfered with the Cuban culture, the Spanish influence is the most prevailing. One can notice this in the way in which the old side of Havana was built; it resembles a lot to the Spanish city of Seville, with its long and narrow streets where ramshackle buildings with iron balconies serve as observatories used by the members of each family in order to see what is going on in the street. Due to the historical and cultural heritage that the buildings represent for Havana and also for Cuba, with the money gained from tourism and UNESCO, some of these buildings have undergone a process of restoration. It is in deed spectacular for the tourist’s eye to see restored buildings next to crumbling ones.
Although nowadays Havana struggles to survive, heading towards an uncertain future, its citizens give the town a special glow.
Once, the sugar was the most important source of currency. Nowadays things have changed. Tourism has known a great development, taking the place of sugar and thus, becoming the main source of currency. Another improvement is considered to be the fact that Cubans are now allowed to hold US dollars.
The first registration of Havana was made in 1514. The city, founded on the southern coas of Cuba, was named San Cristóbal de la Habana. But five years later, the city was moved to the northwestern location, where today it delights the tourists with the harbour around which it was built.
Cuba was a Spanish colony for almost 250 years. Spaniards exported tones of treasures to the kingdom’s capital. The descendants of the Spanish settlers who were born on Cuban land where called crioll and they were considered to form the aristocratic strata. What turned Cuba into a secluded territory was the interdiction to make trade with foreigners because of the islands’ few resources. But this changed after 12 years when Havana’s harbor started to be used for trade.
In 1762 Britain conquered Havana and under the British administration it appeared the trade with animals, food, cloth and especially slaves; representing the labor force on the plantations, they were brought from Africa and, together with the criollos, they put the basis of the present Cuban people and heritage.
The British contributed to the development of Havana; thus the ships that docked in Havana’s harbor raised from 6 ships a year to 200, and Cuba’s number of plantations grew from 300 acres to 700 acres. Havana became the busiest commercial center in the Western Hemisphere due to the trade with rum, sugar, tobacco and coffee.
In 1899 Cuba became independent from Spain with the help of the Americans who were an important part in the country’s economics and industry. During the period of prohibition in U.S., Havana turned into a promiscuous place where Americans came for gambling, drinking, a richfull nightlife. All this came to an end in 1959 when Fidel Castro and Che Guevara overthrown the dictator Batista and banished the Americans in a guerrilla strike. Castro applied a soviet regime which improved the educational and health system of Cubans. But the interdiction to the existence of relations between Cuba and the U.S., as well as the fall of the Soviet Union, all these contributed to a shortage of goods in Cuba. Nowadays things have improved a little, so Cubans are allowed to hold U.S. dollars and tourists from other countries are visiting the exotic Cuba.
If you visit the famous city of Havana, you have to stroll in the cobbled streets and admire the specific Cuban houses, some fresh painted, other on the border of collapse. They represent the heritage of these places.