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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana
March 20th 2011
Published: March 26th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Plaza de ArmasPlaza de ArmasPlaza de Armas

A local theatre group perform

Habana Vieja



Habana Vieja is the criss-cross network of narrow streets and squares which formed the original town. One of the guidebooks suggests there are more than 900 buildings of historical significance in this small area and I find that easy to believe. Like in other areas of Havana, every building seems to be an architectural treasure and I have no idea how many museums there are here – almost every building seems to hold some sort of collection.

I’m told by my Cuban friends that the whole area was seriously dilapidated a few years ago. A lot of work has been done alongside UNESCO in restoring four of the main squares and some of the surrounding streets. Eusebio Leal Spengler, the city historian who has initiated a lot of the work and attracted much of the funding seems to be a much respected person in the city.

The area is based around the four main squares, Plaza Vieja, Plaza De San Francisco, Plaza De Armas and Plaza De La Catedral. These, together with the main pedestrianised tourist street, Obispo are the main areas to have been restored. You only need to walk a couple of blocks away to see what the whole area used to look like.

During the week you can stroll through these areas quite leisurely. There seems to be more in the way of entertainment on a Sunday but it’s on a Sunday that Happy Cruises dock in the port and unload their happy cruisers and the area becomes very busy. At least the happy cruisers provide a new target for the guys trying to sell rolled-up banana leaves as cigars.


Hemingway



There seem to several places trying to cash in on Hemingway’s reputation. I guess that there probably aren’t too many bars in Havana where Hemingway didn’t fall over at some point. But one place that seems to be definitely on the tourist route is the Hotel Ambos Mundos. This is where Hemingway is supposed to have written “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and the hotel does a good trade in taking tourists to his room for 2CUCs.


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The Camara Oscura The Camara Oscura
The Camara Oscura

At Plaza Vieja
Cocktails at Hotel Ambos MundosCocktails at Hotel Ambos Mundos
Cocktails at Hotel Ambos Mundos

While Ray writes a literary masterpiece


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