What might be the most surprising thing to travelers concerning Havana is how well-rounded the city is. The art lovers will be delighted by the extensive collection of Cuban artwork on in the Museum of Fine Arts. People who love history will likely be in awe of the artifacts displayed at the Museo de la Revolucion while readers will be giddy when they see Finca Vigia, Hemingway's former residence. To really experience Havana's charm, take a stroll through the lively streets (streets) that make up Old Havana or drink with locals on El Malecon. The possibilities for having a great experience in Havana are infinite.
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For tourists, Old Havana may be the city's soul and heart However, for Cubans the city is El Malecon. In terms of technicality, El Malecon is a 5-mile-long boulevard that runs along the water and includes Havana Bay on one side and the outskirts of Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana on the other depending on where you're located. In a metaphorical sense, El Malecon is both an area of gathering and a place to rest for residents seeking some breath after a tiring night or day.
Like the inhabitants of Havana Visitors are equally enthralled with El Malecon. Many of the recent travelers have discovered El Malecon to be a stunning seaside stroll, but said that the attraction is at its full potential in the evening. Take note that a portion areas of the boardwalk aren't as established as other areas, therefore wearing a good pair of shoes can make your walk more comfortable. El Malecon starts at the end of Paseo de Marti, Old Havana's main thoroughfare. It is finished at the entrance to the Almendares River, at the end of the Vedado neighborhood. El Malecon is completely free to explore and is all year round. Since it's located at the edge of Old Havana and the trendy Vedado neighborhood there are restaurants and shops close by.
The decision to skip Old Havana is tantamount to not seeing Parliament even if there's London as well as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This charming area is not only famous for Havana and Cuba however, it is also a landmark to the entire world. In the 1980s, Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, because of the incredible preservation of a few of the region's older buildings. When you walk throughout Old Havana, you'll see many different styles of architecture that include baroque and neoclassical design elements, adorned with the most vibrant colors. The area is also filled with beautiful cobblestone plazas and cars that appear as if they're from museums, and masses of people who are equally fascinating regardless of whether they are Cuban street performers or awestruck travellers from all over the world.
Others suggested taking an organized tour as it's easy to forget all the history and rich culture that was part of the streets. Havana Tour Company and Intrepid Urban Adventures provide tours of the neighborhood, with English-speaking guides, lasting three to three and a half hours for a cost. Old Havana can be visited all year and admission is free.
Of all the beautiful squares that line Old Havana, Plaza Vieja is believed to be the principal square. The cobblestone-lined square is surrounded by brightly colored baroque as well as art nouveau-style buildings that house eateries as well as art galleries, houses and even cameras obscura. It was built in 1559. The plaza has been through many changes and played host to numerous historical events - both positive and bad. Festivities and parades were commonplace in the days as were bullfights, as well as public executions. Plaza Vieja used to be an area for military drills before it became the location of the market in open air. In the following years it was turned into a park. It was later transformed into a parking underground structure, if you believe it.
If you're in the mood it is said that the best method to soak in the ambience at the Plaza Vieja is to have an outdoor drink and lay back and relax while watching everyone who walks through. As it is situated within the pedestrian friendly Old Havana, Plaza Vieja is accessible via walking.
Plaza de la Catedral
If you're among those travellers who believe that if you've only seen one place, you've seen them the entire time, then haven't seen Plaza de la Catedral. It is a top attraction for new travelers, Plaza de la Catedral is well worth the extra time due to its magnificent 18th-century cathedral that is also known as Catedral de la Habana. The visitors were captivated by the magnificent baroque church which was once described by a Cervantes Prize winning writer as "music that was turned in stone."
The square is tiny, so don't expect to have as many facilities (there's the one place to eat) as adjacent Plaza Vieja. The lack of space isn't what irks the visitors. The thing that irked visitors was the amount of people in the square is when cruise ships dock in the harbor of the city. If you know when cruise ships dock, travelers highly recommend planning their visit in the vicinity of that. You can find Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana. Plaza de la Catedral is open to the public for free and all year round.
Museum of the Revolution
There's no better spot to learn about the history of the country other than Museo de la Revolucion. The museum traces the history and times prior to the revolution, as well as the people and events that resulted in Fidel Castro's resounding revolution. Artifacts on display help visitors understand the thoughts that were going through the minds of revolution fighters. Relics that stand out are blood-stained clothing of the fallen soldiers from the Santiago de Cuba Moncada Barracks attack, maps utilized for navigation during the war, as well as the bullet holes that were left from the attempted assassination attempt on Fulgencio Batista. The exhibit is situated in the main staircase. There are also sections specifically dedicated to Che Guevara and Castro as well as in front of the building is the tank utilized for Castro in Castro's Bay of Pigs invasion is visible from the outside.
Visitors also praised the architectural style of the former palace with interiors designed for Tiffany & Co. and an Room of Mirrors inspired by that of the Palace of Versailles. A few visitors expressed regret at not having read about Cuba's history prior to visiting the museum, and others were disappointed that a small portion exhibits were English. The Museo de la Revolucion on Avenida Belgica, located a few blocks to the east of the main street in Old Havana, Paseo de Marti.
Havana is renowned for many things - old cars vibrant locals, gorgeous buildings, but one name that has remained associated with the capital of Cuba for many years (aside the fact that it is home to Castro) has been Ernest Hemingway. The renowned author resided in Havana for an incredible 22 years, with his wife (one divorced) and numerous pets, even as his United States' relationship with Cuba was deteriorating. Finca Vigia, which translated is "lookout farm" was in which Hemingway wrote a significant portion in one of his more renowned writings, "The Old Man and the Sea." He also was well-known for hosting a variety of VIPs like Hollywood toppers diplomats, writers, and other authors in Finca Vigia.
It's crucial to be aware that guests aren't permitted to enter his home (for preservation reasons) but are able to view the interiors through doors and windows. While some visitors have been dissatisfied with the rule Many said that they were able to observe the interior of the home from the various vantage points. Visitors to the home of Hemingway were impressed by how well-maintained the house stood in comparison with the rest of Havana. In spite of how well-maintained everything remains, many reported feeling like Hemingway had never gone.