Havana is the capital of Cuba . Since 1982 the old town of Havana is part of the world cultural heritage . The International Airport of the Cuban capital is the Aeropuerto Jose Marti International (HAV) about 15 miles south of downtown. He is flown directly from Germany, but also with European connecting flights to reach.
The districts of greatest interest to tourists are essentially four:
Old Havana – The focus of this district is the Plaza de Armas, close to port facilities. Here are the buildings of the captain general and the forts of La Fuerza and El Templete from the early period of Spanish rule. The narrow streets that wind away from the Plaza de Armas are very picturesque because of the old shops that face. In particular, the Obispo old chemists are still decorated wooden vessels exhibiting vintage glass and pottery.
Centro Habana – This district, located west of the old town on the seafront Malecon has not benefited from the restoration of the old town except for its portion of the sea where there is a monument to General Maceo and the Tower San Lazaro. The area has developed since the eighteenth century. One of its most picturesque districts is the “barrio chino” where is concentrated the majority of Chinese residents in Cuba (1% of the population of the country).
El Vedado – addition is El Vedado, which can be regarded as the financial district of Havana. There are the premises of the largest banks in Cuba, several ministries, hotels and entertainment places among the most luxurious of the city. The streets of the district intersect at right angles and are not identified by names but by numbers or letters, according to the American use.
Miramar – (16 km from the center). The district of Miramar is a natural expansion to the west of the former but, contrary to what is a mostly residential neighborhood character and with plenty of “casas particulares legal and illegal.” Miramar is also home to numerous diplomatic missions including the Italian. Until 1959 the district was preferred by the wealthy class, as evidenced by its many villas some of whom are still in a state of neglect. Many of those who know Cuba prefer to live here, snubbing the “Habana Vieja” is too contrived and that they consider most suitable for tourists with cameras to “crash”. There is no shortage in Miramar neither local nor the opportunities for recreation and the rocks of the beach you can enjoy bathing.
Note that many Italians prefer to reside on the East side of the beaches where the sea is more beautiful Playa del Este , El Megano , Santa Maria del Mar , Guanabo. Still others prefer the Marina Hemingway , always to the west of the center, evidently attracted by the fashionable marina of this.
Havana, Capitolium former Parliament building
Until 1959, the year of the takeover by Castro Havana was considered the most attractive cities in the Caribbean. The year marked a sad decline in the future but from the last decade of the twentieth century there has been a turnaround, the state agency with the support of UNESCO Habaguanex has carried an extensive restoration work that has focused mainly on buildings and churches in Havana’s old colonial period.
The ‘ Jose Marti International Airport is located 18 kilometers southwest of the city and has three terminals. the No. 1 is reserved for domestic flights, the No. 2 to charter flights and international flights to No. 3.
The controls are the Customs officers and the officers detailed for anything suspicious, but so diligent and hours of waiting queues ( also 2 ) are the norm.
To reach the center you should use a taxi. The company is best known Panataxi Panatrans group. Established in 1992, prices lower than the competition but more cars showing their age. If one turns to the counter there Cubatur a call. However there are many outside waiting. The drivers of licensed taxis carry a badge on his shirt. We must be extremely careful not to run into abuse in which case your luggage will take the flight and you will definitely leave in a totally different area from that request. Please note also that even today some older taxis do not have a meter to which it is necessary to agree on the fare in advance. It takes 3 / 4 of an hour to reach the center.
The bus route from the airport terminal was the Parque Fraternity, however, was abolished and the buses were too crowded to be taken into account.
Colonial building on the Plaza Vieja
The cathedral – A baroque building from which construction was begun by the Jesuits. After their expulsion in 1767 the church became the cathedral of Havana. When Santo Domingo fell into the hands of the French (1795) were brought the bones of Christopher Columbus believed that there remained until 1898, when they were transferred to the cathedral of Seville . In the square in front of you hold a market of handmade products.
Plaza de Armas – Recently restored to its former glory, the square is surrounded by large colonial buildings. On the north east side of the church is called “El Templete”, dating back to 1828. The column was placed in front of the place where, according to tradition was the first mass Offizi on Cuban soil (1519). On its summit stands a statue of the Virgin of Pilar, the patron of sailors. On another side stands the Palace of the Captain General in 1780. In 1917 the building was used as the town hall. Today it houses the Museo de la Ciudad. It was in this building that in 1899 representatives of the U.S. and Spanish governments signed the treaty that ended centuries of Spanish rule on the “Isla Grande”.
La Plaza Vieja – This square, one of the most touristy of Havana, has been the subject of a careful restoration under the auspices of UNESCO. Here is a building of 1763 which was the residence of the Captain General of Spain, Conde de Ricla that filming on the island to the English. The other colonial buildings on the square date back to the eighteenth century and all are distinguished by their elegant decoration and in particular the balconies.
The Square of Saint Francis of Assisi – Located on the waterfront just a short distance from the “Plaza Vieja” is one of the most animated of the old town. We are the church itself and the buildings of the Lonja and the terminal port of the Sierra Maestra
The church and convent of St. Francis – Complex of 1608 but rebuilt in 1737. An austere and massive building, more than a place of worship gives the impression of a fortress. The church is now a concert hall and the monastery is a museum with collections of religious objects. To climb the bell tower have to pay an extra ticket.
La Lonja del Comercio – Restored building in front of the pier where cruise ships dock. It is now used as headquarters of the Cuban stock.
Terminal Sierra Maestra harbor much of the nineteenth century building in the Plaza Vieja area full of bars and restaurants
The convent of Santa Clara – dates back to 1644 and housed the order of Poor Clares. Interesting the “patio”, in excellent condition.
The church of La Merced – Its construction was begun in 1792 and was completed nearly a century tardi.Notevoli the decorations of its interior.
Gallego Center – neo-baroque palace founded between 1907 and 1914 with the contribution of immigrants Galicians in Cuba and used as a seat of their clubs. The richness of the decoration shows the high degree of opulence from this community reached the dawn of the nineteenth century. The building is located at the intersection of Paseo Marti 458 with San Rafael.
Palace of the Parliament ( National Capitol ) – Gallego Adjacent to and overlooking the central park, this building that closely resembles the capitol in Washington while on a reduced scale, was built in 1929 and served as the residence of the dictator Machado. It was later used as headquarters of the Cuban parliament and the senate until 1959. The dome is huge. At the center of the floor was placed a 24-carat diamond that is used to measure the country’s kilometers away.
Plaza de la Revolucion – Known as Republic Square before the advent of the Castro regime, this vast, open space and is still served as the center of massive popular protests, especially during the 1st May. This is also the place where Fidel Castro used to keep his speeches. The square at its center, the memorial to Jose Marti and is surrounded by the buildings of the Ministry of Interior, Communications, the Revolutionary Armed Forces as well as the palace of the Revolution, the Biblioteca Nacional and the Teatro Nacional.
Portrait of Che Guevara in front of the building of the Ministry of Interior
The National Museum – Also known as “Palacio de Bellas Artes” was inaugurated in 2001 after a careful restoration. There are themed collections hosted the struggle for national independence, but you can also admire the works of Cuban and European painters of the oldest of which date back to the sixteenth century. It contains among other paintings attributed to Van Dyck, Velazquez, Tintoretto, Degas, etc.. There is also admire artifacts and sculptures dating back to Egyptian, Greek and Roman
Museo de la Revolucion – Dedicated to the events at the end of 50 years of the twentieth century led the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship. In front of the park there is the historic yacht Granma used in 1956 by Fidel Castro and 80 bearded to reach Cuba from Mexico where he had fled earlier. The name “Granma” is an abbreviation from the English Grand Mother (“Grandma”). Hips were placed in the park a few Soviet-made tanks used to counter the failed attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs . There is also the wreck of an American spy plane shot down in 1970.
The rum is excellent and the Cuban cigars of good workmanship, but their price to Tiendas not cheap. Careful not to buy smuggled cigars offered on the street because only the leaf of tobacco is being coated.
At the Palacio de la Artesania there is a great choice of objects artigianiali. The production workshops are located on the back of the building.
It’s worth a visit to the Duty Free dell’areoporto.
Cost of living
Havana can be a surprisingly expensive city if you decide to stay in hotels and eat at the state-run restaurant. This is due to the fact that in Cuba, still maintain that only the Communist-style economy in the last decade of the twentieth century began to make tentative concessions to private. If you do not want to spend should stay at the private (casas particulares) that also serve food, otherwise dear to Cuba
ATMs can be found with relative ease but only Visa cards are enabled. The use of the MasterCard / Maestro and American debitcards except for a couple of exchange offices one of which is in the vicinity of ‘Hotel Nacional but at increased rates. Change CADECA euros in an office (Casa de change) does not involve an increase of fees imposed on the U.S. dollar instead for a good 10%
Where to eat
The restaurants of Havana are by no means cheap. Until 2004 it was paying in dollars or credit cards when they are exposed on the front door. We must carefully check the bill because it will often appear unjustified rumors or surcharges. Until 1995, the restaurants demanding payment in U.S. dollars were the only option for those who want to eat out of their hotel.
After that year, however, was also granted to private homes to carry out and catering also demand payment in pesos. The license, however, limits their receptiveness to 12 seats. Another restriction is on the menu: lobster and shellfish are banned even though in reality they are served the same day, only if required. This type of restaurant is known as “Paladar” . The name comes from a Brazilian soap opera, followed by the very Cuban. In one of the fictional heroine of this serial decides to open a restaurant and when it comes to finding a name chosen precisely “Paladar”. Some paladares are excellent and generous offer courses at very affordable prices.
Compared to other centers in the Caribbean Havana is a city that offers guarantees of safety. The people are friendly and animated by a spirit of hospitality, even if often a little ‘”maliziosetta” but this seems to enjoy most of the Italians who, unlike the Anglo-Saxons, often lend themselves readily to the “game”. It should of course take some basic precautions such as not to leave valuables unattended in your room or on the beach. As in any other part of the world are lurking pickpockets in crowded places especially on buses.
Walking through Old Havana alone implies being escorted by a retinue of petulant children. Adults but will make a number of proposals: rooms for rent, cigars, cocaine and even “chicas”. Accept these proposals is foolish because they are “disappointments” in 100% of cases. If you purchase cigars or other objects on the street know that unless you can show your receipt when you leave, there will be confiscated. If, however, accepted the invitation to rent a room in a particular house illegally, know that the broker will be a fee of 10% and you will be exposed to serious risks if the police will peck ( and is not the only risk ).
The Cubans and Cuban who offer their services ( including sexual ) tourists are known as “jineteros” or “jineteras” ( Literally: jockey ) because the mountain … on the back of the tourists. This in the sense that they try to foist their disappointments but always in a “delicate”.