Cuba, Havana travel information, history, municipalities, museums, theaters

Havana was founded on 1515 by Diego Velásquez, although not in its present location. The Havana of today was re-founded in 1519 in the present location of Old Havana. The importance of Havana increased as the number of ships that called at its port while in transit from South or Central America to Spain. In 1553 the capital of Cuba was shifted from Santiago de Cuba to Havana due to the increase of its economic importance as the comercial center of the caribean.

Today Havana has a population of more than two million inhabitants, and is the political, cultural and economic heart of Cuba. It contains more than one fifth of the cuban population and is one of the great historical cities of the New World.

More on Havana coming soon...

Municipalities

Havana City is divided in several municipalities, but we will focus on the five that are of most interest to tourists.

Habana Vieja (Old Havana):
This municipality is defined by the limits of the early colonial settlement that lay between fortificated walls. This is the area of the city of most interest to tourists, with many musseums, historical places, pieces of the previous fortificated walls, and all sorts of castles, fortress, and colonial palaces.

Centro Habana, & Cerro:
As the old city start to grow outside the walls, new neighborhoods were founded. The first two were Cerro and Centro Habana (in this order).

Plaza de la Revolucion, & El Vedado:
This is the part of Havana I prefer. There are excellent neighborhoods in this municipality. Vedado is the best area although surrounding areas are very good as well. Prices are slighty lower than in Playa and Miramar while conditions are almost similar. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO RENT ! ! !

Playa, Miramar, & Santa Fé:
Playa and Miramar are the newest parts of Havana. The fifth avenue (Miramar) is one of the most luxurious neighborhoods of Havana (room prices are the highest). Here the more wealthy people of Cuba fixed their residences until 1959. Today there are a lot of expensive hotels and embassys. Rooms for rent in this area are the most expensive in Havana but in general conditions are similar to the ones in Plaza and Vedado. Santa Fé is a small town of fisherman close to Marina Heminway, a pleasure harbor used for yatchs and fishing competitions, etc. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO RENT ! ! !

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Room prices

Municipality

Inner room

Independent room

Plaza de la Revolución $20-$25 $25-$30
Plaza (Vedado area) $25-$35 $30-$50
Cerro $20-$25 $20-$30
Centro Habana $25-$30 $30-$35
Habana vieja (Old Havana) $20-$30 $25-$35
Playa $30-$35 $30-$50
Playa (Miramar area) $30-$40 $35-$55
Playa (Santa Fé) $25-$30 $25-$35

Please note that these prices are a simple average. Prices may change according to room conditions (air conditioner, bathroom, kitchen, etc.), season, location, duration of stay, etc. This table is only a general guide to room prices in Havana.

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For a good reference to Havana's tourist places to visit see our Virtual Tour Page.

Museums

Museo de la Educación: (Museum of Literacy) Empredado #151, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-5468. This museum, in Plaza de la Catedral, traces Cuba's achievements in the Great Literacy Campaign.

Museo Antropológico Montane: (Anthropological Museum) Calle San Lázaro, Vedado, tel. 79-3488.Contains exhibits on pre-Columbian culture. Museo y Archivo de la Música: (Music Archives and Museum) Calle Capdevilla #1, el Aguiar y Habana, Centro Habana, tel. 80-6810. Exhibits trace the revolution of Cuban musical styles.

Museo de Armas: (Weapons Museum) Calle O'Reilly #2, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-6130. Small arms spanning several centuries are displayed, including many owned (and used) by individuals of historical importance.

Museo de Arte Colonial: (Museum of Colonial Art) Calle San Ignacio #61, Habana Vieja, tel. 62-6440. This fine museum contains stunning period furniture and decorations from the colonial era.

Museo de Artes Decorativas: (Museum of the Decorative Arts) Calle 17 #502, Vedado, tel. 30-8037. A splendid mansíon displaying colonial period furniture and decorations.

Museo Casa Abel Santamaría: Calle 25 #154, Vedado, tel. 70-0417. The house where the martyred revolutionary hero lived, and also headquarters for Fidel Castro's nascent M-26-7 movement.

Museo Casa Natal de José Martí: Calle Leon Peréz, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-3778. The birthplace of national hero José Martí records his confibutions to the cause of independence.

Museo de Ciencias Carlos Finlay: (Carlos Finlay Museum of Sciences) Calle Cuba #460, Habana Vieja. Honors the achievements of Cuban medical scientist Carlos Finlay and other noted Cubans in the field of science.

Museo de Ciencias Naturales Felipe Poey: (Felipe Poey Natural Sciences Museum) Calle Industria, Habana Vieja, tel. 63-1268. Contains stuffed and pickled exhibits of Cuba's flora and fauna and traces aspects of pre-Columbian culture.

Museo de la Ciudad de Habana: (City Museum of Havana) Calle Tacón #1, Habana Vieja, tel. 33-8183. This museum traces the development of the city from its earliest colonial days. Many fine exhibits from the Spanish period. A must-see.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: (National Fine Arts Museum) Calle Animas, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-1864. A splendid, if poorly illuminated, collection of Cuban paintings and sculptures, plus important works representing Impressionist and other major styles, as well as Latin America's largest collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian treasures. A must see.

Museo Nacional de Música: (National Music Museum) Calle Capdevila #1, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-9846. Instruments and scores spanning several centuries trace the evolution of Cuban music and the contributions of its finest comnosers and performers.

Museo Napoleónico: (Napoleonic Museum) Calle San Miguel #1159, Vedado, tel. 79-1412. This splendid mansion houses personal possessions of Napoleon Bonaparte and other memorabilia relating to the French Emperor.

Museo Numismático: (Numismatíc Museum) Calle Oficios, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-5857. Coins of the realm dating back centuries are displayed. Museo Postal Filatélico: (Postal/Philatelic Museum) Avenida Independencia, Plaza de la Revolución, tel. 70-5043. Displays a superb collection of Cuban and intemational stamps.

Museo del Pueblo Combatiente: (Museum of the Fighting People) Avenida 5ta #7201, Miramar, tel. 29-1497. This strangely named museum tells the Cuban govemment's version of the counterrevolutionary struggles, including the CIA's Operation Mongoose and the mass exodus from Cuba in the wake of the Revolution.

Museo de la Revolución: (Museum of the Revolution) Calle Refugio #1, Habana Vieja. Housed in the former Presidential Palace, this museum is Cuba's most complete exhibition on the Revolution, with maps, weaponry, personal articles, photographs, the Granma, tanks, and warplanes. A must-see.

Parque Histórico Militar El Morro-La Cabaña: (El Morro-La Cabaña Historical Military Park) Carretera de la Cabaña, Habanas del Este. The MorroCastle and La Cabaña fortress are hulking testaments to Havana's military history. A must-see.

Museo Nacional del Aire: (National Air Museum) Avenida 212 y La Coronela, Cubanacán. A splendid array of military and civilian aircraff, plus models and exhibits recording notable moments in Cuban aviation history.

Museo Ernest Hemingway: San Francisco de Paula, tel. 91-0809. The Nobel novelist's former home, Finca Vigía, has been leff as it was when Hemingway died in 1961. A must-see.

Museo Histórico de Guanabacoa: (Historical Museum of Guanabacoa) Calle Martí #108, Guanabacoa, tel. 97-9117. This museum of santería profiles the influence of slavery and African cultures on the evolution of Cuban culture and the syncretic Afro-Cuban cults.

Theaters

Gran Teatro: (also known as Teatro García Lorca) Prado (Paseo de Martí e/ San Rafael y San José, Habana Vieja, tel. 61-3078. Hosts the nationai baliet, opera, and symphony. Occasional jazz and other concerts are held here.

Teatro Bertold Brecht: Calle 13 y 1 ra, tel. 329359

Teatro El Sótano: Calle K, e/ Calles 25 y 27, Vedado, tel. 32-0630. Teatro Guiñol: Calles M y 19, Vedado, tel. 32-6262. Youth theater.

Teatro Huberf de Blanck: Calzada (Calle 5ra) eJ Calles A and B, Vedado, tel. 30-1011. Known for both modem and classical plays.

Teatro Mella: Linea (Calle 7ra) and Calle A, Vedado, tel. 38-6961. Noted for its contemporary dance and theater, including performances by the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. Many of Cuba's more contemporary and avant-garde plays are performed here.

Teatro Nacional: Paseo y Avenida Céspedes, Plaza de la Revolución, tel. 79-6011. The country's premier theater, used for classical to contemporary shows.

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Art Galleries

Centro Wilfredo Lam: San Ignacio 22 esq. Empedrado, tel. 61-2096; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Temporary exhibits with contemporary art from the Third World.

Galeria UNEAC: Calle 17 esq. H, Vedado, tel. 32-5781; Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibits by the best contemporary Cuban artists.

Galeria Forma: Calle Obispo #255 e/ Cuba y Aguiar; Mon: Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Small-format sculptures by prominent Cuban artists. Also stunning painting by leading artists.

Galeria Habana: Calle Linea e/ E y F, Vedado, tel. 32-7101; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Paintings, silkscreen prints, and drawings by young Cuban artists.

Galeria La Acacia: Calle San José 114 esq. Consulado y Industria, Centro, tel. 63-9364; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fine collection of antiques and works by the great masters of Cuban plastic arts.

Galeria Victor Manuel: Plaza de la Catedral; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Cuban landscapes, pottery, and applied arts.

Galeria Plaza Vieja: Calle Muralla No.t07, esq. San Ignacio, Habana Vieja; Mon-Fr. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Specializes in Afro-Cuban influences in the works of celebrities like Manuel Mnedive, Zaida del Río, and Armando Laminaga.

Taller de Seregráfia Rene Portocarrero: Calle Cuba #513, e/ Teniente Rey y Muralla, tel. 62-3276; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Silkscreen printing workshop; serigraphy applied to art reproduction. Taller Experimental de la Gráfica: Callejón del Chorro, Plaza de la Catedral, tel. 62-0979; Mon.-Sat.

10 a.m: 4 p.m. Traces the history of engraving. Exclusive pieces for sale.

Galeria Horacio Ruíz: Calle Tacón No.4, esq. Empedrado; Mon -Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Leather, metal, glass, papier-máché, and other materials

Galeria Haydee Santamaría: 3ra y 5ta, Vedado, tel. 32-4653; Mon: Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Graphics, prints, drawings, and photography from throughout the Americas.

Galeria Francisco Javier Baez: Plaza de la Catedral; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Galeria Roberto Diago: Muralla 107 esq. San Ignacio. Habana Vieja, tel. 33-8005; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Permanent exhibits of primitive artists.

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Discos & Night clubs

Information comming soon!!!

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Public Internet Access

There are several (although not too many) places in Havana with public internet access. The first appeared (not the best) is located in the Havana's Capitol (located in Prado Street, see a picture in the Virtual Tour). People who have used this service make a lot of complains about its quality, the wait is often over an hour to get access to a PC.

There are internet access in every major hotel of the City, prices range from $5usd/hour to more than $20usd/hour.

The best place I found is located in the Chamber of Commerce (Camara de Comercio) of the Republic of Cuba, located in the corner between Streets 2 and 21, Vedado. The price is 10c/minute, and you pay min by min, so you will pay exactly for the time you used. I strongly recommend this place. The major drawback is that opens only in working hours from Monday to Friday.

 

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Suggestions

If you have any suggestions or information you beleive should appear in this page, send me an e- mail to allhavana@webhavana.com.