The fortress of El Morro in Havana with a view of the city skyline
11 June, 20192 minute read

Havana's proud heritage

As the largest city in Cuba - and indeed the Caribbean - Havana bursts with a blend of history, culture and sun-drenched Cuban charm. The city offers visitors unforgettable holiday experiences - there truly is no place like it.

Around 1515, Spanish Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded Havana as a trading port for sailors from across Europe and the Americas. Frequent pirate attacks soon prompted the Spanish government to construct fortifications around the city, which expanded into the 17th century under their protection. The city soon began to flourish. Havana’s climate and commercial prosperity brought traders and travellers from every corner of the globe, who invested in the attractive, eclectic buildings which draw tourists to this day.

The European Neoclassical style of the 19th century is prominent, especially in the city’s up-market Habaneros and various extravagant palaces. The Baroque style is also common in buildings around Old Havana, including religious and military structures like La Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana and the imposing Castillo del Morro, built at the entrance to Havana Bay. Havana’s architectural heritage extends into the 21st century with striking Art Deco and Modernist buildings like the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Museum of the Revolution and the Central Railway Terminal.

Nowhere is the proud heritage of Havana more prominent than in its monuments and landmarks. Must-see attractions include the marble Christ of Havana statue overlooking the city from a hillside over the bay; the 16th century Fortress San Salvador de la Punta, guarding the city’s harbour; and the grand Plaza de la Revolución, dominated by the towering José Martí Memorial, dedicated to one of Cuba’s national heroes.

A thriving melting pot of sights, sounds and influences, the sun-drenched streets of Havana promise a Cuban holiday to remember forever.

Image of blog author Laura Weeden

Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.

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