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It is impossible to visit Cuba and not to enjoy its countryside, hospitable people and its unique architecture. Discovered in the fifteenth century the island is a smorgasbord of styles reflecting changes in its history and prosperity, traditions and lifestyle. This set of photos shows the simple houses, palace and mansions, residential buildings and churches. Many have been included in the UNESCO heritage list and every effort is made to preserve them.
Photo Count: 22
First Published: 20110606
This Photo Set Set Has Been Viewed 5022 Times
1. The Havana cathedral, Cuba. The Baroque church with the two asymmetrical towers is one of the edifices that form Plaza de la Catedral, the most picturesque square in Havana. Its construction was finished in 1787. Inside the church is plain with a marble high altar, large crystal chandelier and some religious works of art.
2. Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, opened in December 1930, overlooks the Malecon and the Bay of Havana. It was once a home to famous stars, politicians, artists and writers. These days that historic landmark is a five stars hotel with the swimming pools, restaurants and bars, cigar shops, gardens and the Cabaret Parisien.
3. Havana at sunset, Cuba. Through an open hotel window the photographer watches the old city in the setting sun. The smell of roasted coffee wafts up from the cafe below and the pastel coloured houses along the Malecon seem brighter for a moment. Then the sky darkens and the full moon scrambles up from behind the urban horizon.
4. Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba. The pictured is the north-west corner of the Old Square. Many of these palaces were built in the 1600s by the influential Creole families. Originally the Plaza Vieja was a residential part of the town.
5. Calle Obispo (Bishop Street) Havana, Cuba. This bustling pedestrian street in Havana Vieja connects the Parque Central and the Plaza de Armas. On both sides are shops, cafes, an old pharmacy dispensing homeopathic medications and cosmetics. The red building in the backfround is the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway lived in the 1930s. Near the Plaza de Armas is an interesting and always busy Cafe la Mina.
6. Hotel Inglaterra, Havana, Cuba. This oldest Havana hotel was built in the second half of the nineteenth century. Located in the heart of the old city on Paseo di Marti and opposite the leafy Parque Central it continues to be a favourite of many international visitors.
7. Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba. The Old Square dates back to the sixteenth century. Many buildings there are restored to show off their various architectural styles from Baroque and Neoclassical to Art Nouveau. Since its beginnings the pictured house was owned by a number of important Havana families.
8. Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba. Plaza Nueva, as the square was initially called was the military and government centre. It later became a market and also "the site of executions, processions, bull fighting and fiestas" (Fodor's travel guide). The surrounding houses belonged to the affluent citizens of the city. Then the Square met its more prosaic fate - it became a car park until its historic value was realised and reconstructions undertaken.
9. Partagas Tobacco Factory, Cuba. The factory has been producing the top quality cigars since the nineteenth century. They currently make about five millions cigars. The building is located in the square behind the Capitolio in the Old Havana (Havana Vieja).
10. El Capitolio, Havana, Cuba. This is a rear view of the National Capitol Building. Once the seat of the Cuban Government this neoclassical building resembles its prototype and namesake in the US.
11. Morning in Havana, Cuba. This narrow street branches out of the central park and allows a view of the National Capitol. It is busy here in the morning. Some of the locals return to their homes with a bag or two of shopping, others try to sell things and a car is attempting to pass through.
12. Calle Mercaderes 13, Havana, Cuba. The colonial building on the corner of Mercaderes and O'Reilly streets in the old town houses a fascinating shop Colección Habana. They are selling high class reproductions of colonial era furniture, ornaments, jewellery and a choice of other unique items.
13. Merchant Street, Havana, Cuba. Calle de los Mercaderes is lined with the restored 18th century colonial mansions. These days they mostly house specialist shops, cafes and museums. Casa de Asia museum has sculptures and paintings from the Far East, Museo de Tabaco boasts a collection of cigars and pipes while the Old Havana Perfume Museum displays related objects and a collection of French and Cuban perfumes. A scale model of the old Havana can also be found there.
14. A house in Vinales, Cuba. On both sides of the long main street of this colonial town are one storey colourful houses and the tall pine trees. The Viï¿½ales town is considered a national monument.
15. Casa de la Cultura, Cienfuegos, Cuba. The sky blue building, a former Palacio de Ferrer, was built at the beginning of the twentieth century. It stands on the corner of the Parque Jose Marti, the hub of the old city. These days it houses the art exhibitions and concert hall. From the cupola there is a view of the park and the buildings surrounding the square.
16. The Governor's Palace, Cienfuegos, Cuba. The vibrant Jose Marti Square is surrounded by buildings from the city's colonial past. There is a church and a delightful old theatre, Ferrer Palace, Small Arc de Triumph, San Lorenzo School and the pictured Governor's Palace. Although they come from various periods, they are the best examples of the modern town planning in the Latin America of the nineteenth century.
17. Casa de Ortiz, Trinidad, Cuba. This mansion was built in about 1809 by a wealthy slave trader who became later a sugar baron. Its façade painted yellow, the Casa stands on one corner of the Plaza Mayor. The carved wooden grilles are on the windows and the wooden balcony runs along the two sides. The walls on the upper floor are decorated with painted vases of flowers. The doors and the windows open directly on to the cobblestone street. A man with his small donkey waits to offer a ride to tourists.
18. Basilica del Cobre, Cuba. A short drive from Santiago de Cuba the church towers over the green countryside at the foot of Sierra Maestra. Built in 1927 and dedicated to the Virgin of Charity, a patron saint of Cuba, this is the most important place of pilgrimage on the island.
19. Provincial Museum, Bayamo, Cuba. The pictured museum is located on the north side of the Central Park. The building is the birthplace of the Cuban composer Manuel Munoz Cedeno and it now houses exhibits speaking of history and nature of the region.
20. A yellow house, Cienfuegos, Cuba . In the second part of the nineteenth century many lightweight timber houses were prefabricated in North America and brought to Cuba. The one pictured here stands on a narrow strip of land by the sea, Punta Gorda.
21. Morning in Baracoa, Cuba. The main street is still quiet in the morning. It is getting hot and locals and a few visitors walk on the shaded side. Some shops with clothes, shoes and a bakery have opened. The kids dressed in their red uniforms are ready for another school day.
22. National Museum, Trinidad, Cuba. A cobblestone street is flanked with the colonial houses on both sides. The building with the bell tower is a former convent of San Francisco de Assisi, In the late 1980s is has been converted into a museum and contains artefacts relating to the local events of 1960s.
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