If you’ve traveled through South America or visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, you would probably be familiar with the “Old Town” section of Havana. The Spanish did an amazing job of replicating their European towns in the New World and Havana is no exception. It appears as if the Cuban government is trying to revitalize the area by cleaning up and fixing many of the buildings. This is clearly an important tourist destination. When we were visiting, all of Old Town was awash with tourists from all over the world; many American.
While visiting you’d be remiss to skip over Old Havana even if you’ve seen other Latin and South American Old Towns. Located near the port and by the Malecon it is an easy and popular place to spend the day. We started exploring this part of the city by taking a taxi to the Arts & Crafts Market located along the port in Old Havana in what appears to have formerly been a warehouse or possibly a train or bus depot. From there we meandered through the streets of Old Town until we ended up near the Cathedral of Havana. We stopped for a round of cocktails at El Patio before heading over to a tiny hole in the wall cafe where we had a delicious lunch.
The Cuban Capitol building and the Great Theater of Havana are by Old Town and should also be visited even if just from the outside like we did. Interestingly, Cuba’s Capitol building is an exact replica of the US Capitol Building; just 1/3 the size of the US building in Washington, D.C. This was the most tangible reminder of what was clearly a friendly and close relationship that our countries once shared. It was surreal standing on the steps of Cuba’s Capitol building – an exact replica of the US Capitol Building – with 1950s American cars whizzing by you.
Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars