As the largest city in Cuba – and indeed the Caribbean – Havana bursts with a blend of history, culture and sun-drenched Cuban charm. The city offers visitors from all over the world unforgettable holiday experiences – there truly is no place like it.
Havana was founded around 1515, by the Spanish Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar – as a trading port for sailors from across Europe and the Americas. Frequent pirate attacks soon prompted the Spanish government to construct fortifications around the city, which expanded into the 17th century under their protection. The city soon began to flourish, drawing traders and travellers from every corner of the globe. Havana’s climate and commercial prosperity led to physical growth and the attractive, eclectic buildings, which draw tourists to this day, sprang up around the city from the 18th to the 20th century.
Havana’s streets and squares evoke its diverse heritage. The European Neoclassical style of the 19th century is prominent, especially in the city’s up-market Habaneros and various extravagant palaces. Also common is the Baroque style – common in buildings around Old Havana, including religious and military structures like La Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana and the imposing Castillo del Morro, built at the entrance to Havana Bay. Havana’s architectural heritage extends into the 21st century with striking Art Deco and Modernist buildings like the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Museum of the Revolution and the Central Railway Terminal.
Nowhere is the proud heritage of Havana more prominent than in its monuments and landmarks. Must-see attractions include the marble Christ of Havana statue overlooking the city from a hillside over the bay, the 16th century Fortress San Salvador de la Punta, guarding the city’s harbour, and the grand Plaza de la Revolución, dominated by the towering José Martí Memorial, dedicated to one of Cuba’s national heroes.
A thriving melting pot of sights, sounds and influences, the sun-drenched streets of Havana promise a Cuban holiday to remember forever.