There can be few cities that still retain such an authentic and intoxicating mix of history, colour and life as Havana, Cuba. Fading colonial architecture, classic cars kept on the road by necessity and engineering know-how and the vibrancy of it’s people.
Modern life seems to have led us towards standardisation and conformity. And yet, thankfully, there are still places that give us an alternative glimpse on life – where relentless development has not swept everything away before it.
Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, it provided a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the continent becoming a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.
[ More Information: Lonely Planet: Havana, Cuba
King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592. Walls as well as forts were built to protect the old city.
The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbour in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War.
Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado, and the newer suburban districts. The city is the center of the Cuban Government, and home to various ministries, headquarters of businesses and over 90 diplomatic offices. The population of just over 2.1 million is augmented by another 1 million+ people who visit the city every year.
But the city has long been a popular attraction for tourists. Between 1915 and 1930, Havana hosted more tourists than any other location in the Caribbean. The influx was due in large part to Cuba’s proximity to the United States, where restrictive prohibition on alcohol and other pastimes stood in stark contrast to the island’s traditionally relaxed attitude to leisure pursuits.
The following images capture some of the charm of this wonderful city:
Image: Claudia Eastman
Image: Matt JP
Image: Stefan Vetter
Image: King Reinhardt
Image: D. Kaye
Image: Matthias Uhlig
Image: King Reinhardt
Image: King Reinhardt
Image: Alex Schwab
Is Havana on your travel list? Share the charms of Havana below:
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