Abuela, Santiago de Cuba
Image courtesy of Island 360
Cuba has been getting a lot of air time recently since President Obama opened up diplomatic relations after 50 years. Cuba is my country’s closet neighbour and our relations have always been amicable. We help with food and aid while they train our doctors, send their workers for hospitality training. They have also built some of our schools. This advantageous relationship goes back to our former leaders Fidel Castro and Micheal Manley, and their close relationship as former classmates in university.
Now for the real reason of this post, highlighting the frozen architecture and feel of Havana. The capital city was founded in 1519 by the Spanish. It became the main ship building port for the Caribbean in the 17th century.
The city has five plazas each with their own unique style. The Spanish had set procedures for how a city must be built. These plans dictated that construction should follow a grid centered on the square shape of a plaza. Havana’s first plaza was Plaza de Armas.
Many important buildings surrounded the plaza and it was designated the area of refugee in case of an attack and arms would be distributed.
The Fortifications were built-in the 16th and 19th century to protect the city due to its importance as a necessary stop route onto the new world. These structures are some of the oldest in the Americas. The layout and architecture remain unchanged but have been susceptible to natural damage and neglect.
Efforts are now underway to preserve old Havana from further decay. a detailed plan of the revitalization can be found here (its in spanish) Old Havana was named a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982.There are four forts protecting the city all of which now operate as museums.
Castillo del Morro
Castillo de la Punta
Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana
Castillo de la Real Fuerza
The city has hundreds of little alleyways to wonder and explore, cafe’s and squares to pass the day. With relaxed travel options nows the time to visit La Habana Vieja!