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.
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.
Although it is the most interesting place from a tourists point of view, it is not a good choice for private accomodations because the older buildings are poorly serviced and at night streets are poorly illuminated, STRONGLY DISCOURAGED TO RENT HERE
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). They are not very important from a tourist view, except that are close to old Havana, and the living conditions are slighty better than in Old Havana. NOT RECOMMENDED TO RENT HERE
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 ! ! !