Hola Havana! Here’s a city that reverberates in a rhythm of its own. An existence that may be described as halfway between the innocence of a sleepy tropical city and the excitement of a city like New York, the Cuban destination is one place you need to head for.
The first thing that strikes visitors when they arrive in Havana is its urbanity. However, don’t mistake it for a false, superficial urbanity. It’s urbanity comes across as deeply rooted in its walls, in its way of life, and its people.
Founded in 1514 by the Spaniards under the command of Diego Velázquez, Havana was once the third largest city in the Americas, behind only Mexico City and Lima. Its historic center with a rich architectural heritage, the city is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
A real “key to the Old World, Havana opened the door of the New World to the Spanish who ruled for nearly 400 years. Havana passed directly under the rule of the United States from 1898 to 1902, following the Treaty of Paris signed by the United States and Spain.
Post the 1950s, the Cuban capital so profoundly changed in appearance in both the lifestyle of its inhabitants and its architecture. Casinos, cabarets and nightclubs flourished, and some hotels in the area of Vedado today remind the traveler of those olden times. It’s no wonder that Havana had inspired writers Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene.
The arrival of Fidel Castro to power in 1959 and the establishment of the socialist model changed the habits of Havana. The great fresco of the face of Che Guevara that overlooks the Plaza de la Revolución and the headquarters of the Central Committee of Cuban Communist Party decorated with the colors of the Cuban Revolution remain witnesses of the proud socialist system of the West, thus making the Havana a unique city in the Americas.