Habana Vieja - Old Havana, Havana
One of the best ways to appreciate Old Havana is to simply walk the streets, disappearing up side alleys and generally losing yourself. You'll bump into people, dogs, bicycles and you'll see for yourself the majestic decay of this colonial city.
This area has the most colonial buildings and is the most visited area for tourists who visit Havana but it's also its most beautiful spot. Foreigners walking through the streets getting hustled by jineteros, taking pictures or just having a (Cristal) beer. Habana's Vieja is famous for the Catedral de San Cristoal de la Habana at the Plaza de la Catedral, and for Hemingway's bar, "La Bodeguita del Medio", where you can buy an expensive mojito. Havana Vieja is a part of "cultural Heritage of humanity" and the larger colonial center in Latin America.
Time seems to stand still over here which is absolutely unbelievable.
The only thing which push me off from this place is people begging and hussling you. It so hard to move around. I gave away lots of soap, pensils and run out of most of our change. After the while is very annoying , because even that locals are not allowed to bother tourist they still can be very pushing and hard to et rid of.
This small neoclassical building is located in a corner of Plaza de Armas. This is the place where legendary was founded the city, which was named San Cristobal de La Habana, in 1599. But the Templete itself was built in XVIIIth century.
Este pequenho edificio neoclasico esta situado en la esquina de la Plaza de Armas. Es el lugar donde legendariamente fue fundada la ciudad, a la que se dio el nombre de San Cristobal de La Habana, en 1599. Pero el Templete fue construido a finales del siglo XVIII
It is funny that Plaza Vieja (old square) was named at first as Plaza Nueva (New square) at XVIth century. After the urbanization of Plaza de Armas, this square stopped being the most important public space and it received the name of Plaza Vieja. It is a porticated square with a lot of historical building from four different centuries. The most important of them is Casa del Conde de Jaruco, which dates back from XVIIIth century. Hotel Cueto also deserves a special mention: it is a art-deco hotel built at the beginning of XXth century, and it is presently being reconstructed by the hotel chain Habaguanex.
Es curioso que la Plaza Vieja de la Habana fuese denominada en principio Plaza Nueva, en el siglo XVI. Despues de la urbanizacion de la plaza de Armas, esta plaza dejo de ser el espacio publico mas importante y recibio su actual nombre de Plaza Vieja. Es una plaza porticada con muchos edificios historicos, de cuatro siglos diferentes. El mas importante es la Casa del Conde de Jaruco, que deta del siglo XVIII. El Hotel Cueto tambien merece especial mencion: es un hotel art-deco construido a principios del siglo XX y esta siendo reconstruido en la actualidad por la cadena hotelera cubana Habaguanex.
Plaza de San Francisco: Old Havana has very beautiful squares and this one, just besides de harbour, has Spanish style. In the middle of the square it lies Fuente de los Leones (Lions Fountain), which is inspired by La Alhambra, in Granada, Spain. The most remarkable building in the square is San Francisco Church, which dates back from late XVIth century. It was erected to house franciscane monks community.
Plaza de San Francisco: esta plaza, justo al lado del puerto, tiene estilo espanhol. En el medio de la plaza esta la Fuente de los Leones, inspirada en La Alhambra de Granada. El edificio mas destacado de la plaza es la Basilica de San Francisco, que data de finales del siglo XVI. Fue erigida para albergar una comunidad de monjes franciscanos.
Plaza San Francisco and Plaza Vieja may not be as lively as the two other plazas but it's still worth walking to both of them. There are two popular cafes at Plaza San Francisco: el Cafe del Oriente and El Cafe Mercurio. Both have sidewalk terraces that make it possible to enjoy the view of the beautiful buildings surrounding the Plaza, such as the church San Francisco de Asis and the old Chamber of Commerce, as well as the many horse carriages that gather around the plaza's fountain.
Plaza Vieja is the perfect place to go for an afternoon drink: there are many restaurants around the plaza, including a pina colada stand and if you like pina coladas, make sure to get one from that place - they taste like heaven! On weekdays, you'll probably bump into elementary school classes out to get some exercise. Stand close and you might get to learn a couple Spanish nursery rhymes!
"Breathtaking" is the first word that comes to mind when I think about La Habana Vieja. I had never seen anything quite like it before, and the best way to enjoy it is by walking through the streets of Old Havana, letting the faded beauty of the city soak in. Now part of Unesco's World Heritage, a lot has been done to restore the grandiose, sometimes pompous buildings constructed during the island's more prosperous times, but there can be a lot of differences going from one street to the next. You have to be somewhat careful when you venture out of the more touristy streets as there aren't as many policemen around but those more remote streets, crowded with workers and kids playing baseball, give you a better picture of life in Cuba.
Finding a patio in Old Havana and settling in is a wonderful way to fill an afternoon. Old havana has many cafe with some type of musical entertainment, do expect to offer up a tip but only upon leaving. If your lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you perceive it) you may be asked to join in!
If I had Cuba to do all over again, I would have avioded the shrimp in the buffet and spent more time in the old city. It had alot of places to discover, around every corner was something or someone of interest.
I realise there are many pages of Havana with cars on them, but this picture makes me smile every time I look at it:) My sister has had it made into a wall hanging and since our visit here, it has hung on her walls in Moscow, Italy and now Saudi Arabia. When I visit her I always stand in front of this and smile.
You can see these classic American cars throughout the city. They are much loved and well looked after. When they were not being driven around they were being cleaned:)
You definetely can not miss la Havana Vieja or El Malecon at night. You will see lots of locals walking with their significant others in la Havana Vieja or having a bottle of rum while sitting on El Malecon.
There are also great reastaurants in Havana Vieja where you can sit outside and enjoy Spanish music.
Also, "El Canyonaso de las Nueve" is a great show to see every night at 9pm at El Morro.
There are many areas in the city center with an optic that would alarm all my senses to keep out in any other Latin American city. Not in Havana. As there are drastic punishments for crime to tourists and it seems to be out of the mind of the well-educated and friendly people here, you can walk any place any time. It?s sad that this is so special, but it just is so special. This way you get a good chance to see behind the facades of the touristic Cuba.
La Habana Vieja is Old Havana, which is on the west side of the harbour. This area used to be surrounded by city walls and is also known as Colonial Havana. Across the harbour is the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana. On the Old Havana side, the area is full of museums, parks, crowded alleys and important historical buildings. The Capitolio Nacional is an impressive landmark that is said to look like US Capitol Building in Washington DC.
Old Havana is a nostalgic, charming area lined with crumbling colonial houses, lively street-life where children play baseball with makeshift balls (bottle-caps or home made roll of cloth) and bats (piece of wood probably yanked from park benches) or marbles, Cuban-peso food and drink stalls set up on the side of the house facing the streets.
Tourists mill around here, admiring the lop-sided, moss-covered, colourful (in the peeling-paint sort of way) renaissance, neoclassical and baroque architecture. And ironically, in these admired architecture live the poorest of the Cuban people.
Naturally, here is also the place where tourists are faced with the highest level of harrassments and possibly, proposals from jinteros or jinteras (prostitutes).
Centro ciudad. The centre of the city where capitolio is located. The most crouded and touristic area in this huge city. Don't miss the visit into the capitolio. In the entrance you will see one of the the largest indoors statue. Also some artworks are sold inside the building. Outstanding 17th century architecture.
Dark and white - just the way a Cuban Rum (Ron) is presented. Old and recent - just the way it is - a national drink - next to Havana Club - Bacardi and Ron's preserved in several ages and called Silver dry/ Carta Blanca/ Carto oro and Anjeno.
The purchase prices are different - from 3 upto 20 american dollars depending on the age.
The history of the rum goes back to the 1500s when the distillation production was first obtained by sugarcane products.
The mixed drink of Rum and Cola dates from the american influence during the independacy war and was called "Cuba Libré" - maybe now the americans regret it !!
The price for the locals in "Bodega" markets is cheap and almost available (20 pesos a bottle ) - A gouvernment drug ??