Travel & Selling Tips / We can't get enough of Havana! Check out our must-see historic sites
Updated and reinvented pieces of Cuban history
Written by: Serean Bechara
What do you know about historical sites in Havana? Well, whatever you responded with, I couldn’t hear you so I’m going to tell you what I know about historical sites in Havana. If you asked me a few months ago, I would have given you a blank stare.
But now? Well, I know a thing or two that I think travellers may want to know for their 2020 trip to Cuba.
Let’s jump right into it!
1. Capitol BuildingAfter many years of restoration, the El Capitolio de La Habana (Capitol Building of Havana) has re-opened for the 500th anniversary of Havana in 2019. The building initially took a little over 3 years to complete and almost 6 years to restore as the project began in 2013.
The Capitol Building is home to the largest indoor statue in the world, La República. This bronze statue covered in gold is the Mythic Guardian of Virtue and Work and stands a whopping 17.6 metres tall!
The statue was carved in Rome and shipped to Cuba in 3 pieces because of the sheer weight of the 30 tonne statue. Whether you’ve been to Cuba 20 times or it’s your first time there, you definitely can’t leave Cuba without seeing it.
2. Hotel Nacional de CubaIf you're lucky enough to get a room at Hotel Nacional de Cuba then you are one of few! You would also be one among the greats. How? Well, some of the most incredible performers in the world have stayed here, along with royalty.
Everyone from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Walt Disney, Spanish royalty, and beyond have slept in this building.
Hollywood celebrities have always loved this venue, especially since the hotel began hosting a cinema festival in 1979, more famous guests have visited the hotel: Michael Keaton, Steven Spielberg, Noami Campbell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Francis Ford Coplla, Danny Glover, Kate Moss etc.
In fact, guests at the hotel can see who stayed in their very room as the name of these societal and cultural icons are put outside of their door. Even if travellers don’t stay at this hotel, they can still visit and it would be well worth it.
There is an abundance of events that travellers can attend. On the 500th anniversary of Havana we were lucky enough to see an authentic Cuban Cabaret and fireworks for a night of salsa, Spanish music, great drinks, and great company.
3. Gran Teatro de La Habana
Why should you go to the Grand Theatre in Havana?
Also, 3 words and some numbers.
27th Havana Ballet Festival 2020
Enrich your stay with performances that many overlook (the shame!) in the historical Gran Teatro de La Habana. This festival happens bi-yearly in Havana and brings together some of the best performers from all over the world and from companies like: the London Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet, the Scala de Milan, the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet.
Do. Not. Miss. It.
2020 is the year of incredible premiers, beautiful installations, and dancers that make you rethink your life because look at all that discipline!
4. Plaza de ArmasIn Havana's Plaza de Armas lies the Ceiba Tree. Not many people know this but Havana was actually founded 3 times until it was 'officially' founded in the Plaza de Armas.
The Ceiba Tree is 500 years old (yes, just as old as Havana) and is still standing. Every November 15 and 16, the locals and tourists alike do 3 rounds around this tree while touching it and making a wish.
Your wish is absolutely guaranteed or else you’ll have to come back to the tree the following year and try again (think of it as a lifetime warranty).
If you’re going to travel to Cuba in November then it’s worth a shot, right?
Plaza de Armas is a beautiful part of old Havana with many facets of history that includes the home of Ernest Hemingway which happens to be right by the Palacio De Los Capitanes Generales and the beautifully restored Bellas Artes.
5. Church and Convent of St. Francis of AsisHow can we talk about Havana (or Cuba, for that matter) without talking about their Churches? This particular historical landmark has been renovated and updated so it now functions as a museum and a concert hall.
It was built in the 16th century and restored in 1730 in the style of the baroque architecture of the time. When we think of baroque, we think of over-the-top and a richness that now would seem…maybe a little much. But at the time? More is more!
That’s why it’s so interesting to see such a richly adorned Church with even a 19th-century grandfather clock made by Tiffany.
This is just part one of three in our historical series in Havana because there’s a lot to cover and we want you to soak it all in! If you have any questions, comments, recommendations, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ciao for now,
Peace & Love
Serean Bechara, WheelsUpNetwork (Hola Sun’s 500th Anniversary of Havana FAM) - Plaza de Armas
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