Cuba’s identity owes a great deal to the fact that it is surrounded by sea as well as to its geographical position. It is sometimes called the “key to the gulf” because of its strategic location between North and South America at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, and the island has been a crossroads since the beginning of the Colonial period. As a result, the island’s early population consisted of European settlers, a few native Indians who had survived struggles against invaders.
In general, Cubans are outgoing, talkative and sociable. The doors to theirs houses are always open, a glass of rum or a cup of coffee is there for anyone who passes by to say hello and chat.
An aerial view would show the island stretching out in the Caribbean Sea and indeed covered with vegetation and patterned with rivers. Small coral reefs lie just offshore in the sparkling blue sea. In the interior, the landscape is very varied, from plains of red earth to mogotes outcrops of Viñales, from desert cactus to tropical forest. Protected reserves make up 22 percent of the national territory. There are numerous species found only in Cuba, but no poisonous creatures.
Havana is a lively, colorful capital city, full of bustle and entertainment, with some explendide architectural gems from the Colonial period and beyond, and numerous other sights. The city alone is worth the trip to Cuba. Many attractions are concentrated in three quarters: Habana vieja (Old Havana), Centro Habana and Vedado. In Old Havana you are going to find some of the most wonderful architectural pieces of the 19Th century. The historic Heart of Havana, which was declared part of the “cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO in 1982, is the largest Colonial center in Latin America. After two centuries of neglect, restoration work is reviving the former splendour of the district. Havana Vieja is characterized by Hispanic-Andalusian architecture, vitalized by the tropical sun and lush vegetation.
Time seems to stand still there but nonetheless the zone does not give the impression of being a museum.
Things to see in Old Havana:
- Plaza de la cathedral
- Plaza de armas
- Palacio de los capitanes Generales
- Plaza de San Francisco
- Plaza vieja
- Colonial art museum
- Jose Marti museum
- Hotel Dos Mundos (Ernest Hemingway First’s residence)
Centro Havana and Prado:
Centro Habana has the air of impoverished aristocrat – a noble creature whose threadbare clothes belie a splendid past full of treasures. this varied quarter developed beyond the city walls (which ran parallel to present-day Avenida Belgica and Avenida de las Misiones) during 1800s and was initially built to provide houses and greenery for the citizens. Most construction took place after 1863, when the walls began to be demolished to make more land available. the work was finally completed in the 1920s and 30s when French architect Forestier landscaped the area of the Paseo del Prado, the Parque Central, the Capitol gardens and Parque de la Fraternidad.
Things to see in Centro Havana:
- The Capitol
- Paseo del Prado
- Hotel Inglaterra
- The National fine arts museum
- National music museum
Vedado and Plaza:
The unusual grid plan of Vedado was the design of the engineer Luis Yboleón Bosque in 1859. it calles for pavements 2 m (6ft) wide, houses with a garden, and broad straight avenues. The name Vedado (“prohibited”) arose because in the 1500s, in order to have full view of any pirates approaching, it was forbidden to built houses and street there. In the late 19Th and early 20Th century the quarter was enlarged, becoming a prestigious residential area for many of the city’s leading family. Vedado has two different roles. It is Havana’s modern political and cultural center, with the city’s main hotels, restaurants, shops, theaters, cinemas, offices and ministries; and it is also an historic quarter with a wealth of gardens and old house with grand colonial entrances. plaza de la revolution, the venue for major celebrations, is the political center of Havana and the whole of Cuba as well as a highly symbolic place.
Things to see in Vedado:
- Jose Marti Memorial
- Necropolis Colon Cemetery
- Casa de las Americas
- Plaza de la revolucion
- El malecon (starts at Vedado and ends at Old Havana)
- The Hotel Nacional
Some other places to see are the Morro fortress, San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress and plenty more.