By Sam Leinberger ~
The architecture in Havana is absolutely beautiful. Walking through the Historic Center of Old Havana felt as though I was transported through time. One aspect of Cuban architecture that was common throughout Historic Havana was the use of courtyards. These courtyards, like the one at the Captain General’s palace, brings the beauty of the outside into the house for all to enjoy.
As we continued our walking tour, our guide would stop periodically to point out different buildings, whether the be houses, restaurants, or churches that had a significant role in Cuban history.
The Cuban Ministry of architecture has made it a point to focus on the restoration of the Historic Center of Old Havana centering around the Plaza Viejo. But, walk one block out of the designated ‘Historic Zone’ and Havana is a completely different city. As we learned in our lecture, only 1/3 of all of the buildings in Havana have been restored, and many of the remaining buildings are in dire need of repair. We learned an unnerving statistic that every day 2 buildings collapse. From the balcony of our hotel, we witnessed not only in-progress restoration but the reality of Cuban architecture.
The one takeaway from our tour of Old Havana that I found most interesting was the fact that the Cuban government and people want to restore and modernize Havana but without sacrificing the city’s historic past and cultural heritage. Our guide said that previously, the majority of tourism to Cuba was focused around the beach, but the country is turning towards more cultural tourism and there is a need to maintain the historic beauty of Havana.