With winter quickly approaching what better time then now to continue our tropical theme. Despite decreasing temperatures, trade in worries of ice and snow for thoughts of sand and surf. Imagine the warmth of an island breeze and the sound of salsa vibes. There’s nowhere more authentic for this than Havana, Cuba.
Revolutionaries, rum and retro-cars, Havana is more then just an island getaway. It is a city with an exceptionally unique history and a landscape that has been frozen in time. In the past two years Havana has undergone major reconstruction, preserving the colonial era architecture while pushing the country into a modern age. All of this exists against a rich and colourful backdrop.
So for those seeking an upcoming island escape, here are some of the top sites that make Havana worth visiting.
The Malecon is an 8 kilometre stretch of roadway and seawall along the coast of Havana. Built in 1901 the original purpose of the construction was to protect the city from the ocean. Today, the promenade serves as a popular destination for twilight strolls. It’s also a great place to see all of the famous vintage cars.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Havana is the downtown and core area of the original city. Narrow streets are lined with baroque and neoclassical style buildings. Despite varying degrees of decay, the historic centre has distinct character. With five main squares there are a number of fascinating and historic sites to explore. Here you can find the famous Havana Cathedral. Built from blocks of coral from the sea you can actually see preserved marine fossils in the facade.
The Morro castle is a fortress that has served as both a navigation landmark and a gateway to Havana bay. Originally built in 1589 while under Spanish rule, an iron chain connects the castle to the opposite shore providing security in times of uncertainty. Once housing a school for lighthouse keepers the fortress is now the current harbour master’s office. It’s also the perfect place for panoramic views of the city beyond.
Four Plazas of the Revolucion
Best known for its political rallies, the Four Plazas of the Revolucion is dominated by a 358 foot tall memorial tower commiserating Jose Marti. Behind the memorial is the Palace of the Revolution, the seat of the Cuban government and the Communist Party. Across the plaza you can see matching steel memorials of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The area is expansive, echoing the monumentality of the events that took place here through out history.
Havana is a city of rich yet intimate contrasts. Between peeling paint and crumbling buildings are signs of progress and modernity. Locals strive to preserve history as they sit on the cusp of major change. It is a city that needs to be explored for its authentic culture, stunning architecture, amazing food and vast history before it is gone. So pack your flip flops and sunscreen and escape to the streets of one of Cuba’s most exciting cities.