Paseo de Martí, Havana, Cuba
GPS: 23.140420460303, -82.349381593398
Old Havana is the historic district of the Cuban capital, Havana. This former Spanish colony was inhabited by different Caribbean tribes (Siboney, Guanahatabey and Taíno) before its discovery at the end of the 15th century by Christopher Columbus. The city of Havana was founded in 1519 on the north-west coast of Cuba following a new Spanish expedition led by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, first governor of the archipelago. Thirty years later, it supplanted Santiago de Cuba to the rank of capital of the archipelago. Due to its privileged geographical location, Old Havana was attacked, looted and burned in 1555 by the French pirate Jacques de Sores in search of gold in possession of the conquistadors.
Recovered and then fortified by the Spanish monarchy, Old Havana remains under the constant threat of pirates prowling in the region of the Gulf of Mexico and must counteract the desire of the French or the English to expand. Despite, it becomes the Caribbean colonial centre, an important shipbuilding site in the region and the stopover point for many slaves displaced from the Old to the New World. It is also enriched by the trade in goods (sugar cane, tobacco, coffee…) and acted as a hub for gold in the triangular trade between Europe, the Americas and Africa. From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th centuries, the city was marked by a long Spanish domination until the Spanish-American War of 1898. This armed conflict rocked the island under American influence after the Cuban War of Independence. The district of Old Havana, with undeniable charm, still retains to this day an incredible number of architectural jewels from several periods in the history of the country. The stone fortification system protecting the old city and the bay of the Cuban capital is considered to be one of the most complex defensive networks in the Americas.
Articulated around five large paved squares, the labyrinth of narrow streets of Old Havana leads to numerous old buildings (fortresses, palaces, museums, coloured houses, historic buildings, old residences…) benefiting from a vast restoration program funded by Unesco since 1982. The majority of its historic monuments, erected in a mixture of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, form the most remarkable urban complex in the Caribbean. As soon as night falls, this rich cultural heritage gives way to a rich and particularly lively nightlife. You will have the choice between a romantic walk along the Malecón, the tasting of an authentic mojito or daiquiri (cocktails originating from the archipelago), the experimentation of a habano (Cuban cigar produced in the country), the discovery of a trendy nightclub or the musical art of talented local groups.