Havana, Cuba

In 1510, the first Spanish colonists arrived from Hispaniola and the conquest of Cuba began. Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded Havana on August 25, 1515. Havana expanded greatly in the 17th century, new buildings were constructed combining various Iberian architectural styles, as well as borrowing from Canarian characteristics.

During this period the city also built civic monuments and religious constructions. The convent of St Augustin, El Morro Castle, the chapel of the Humilladero, the fountain of Dorotea de la Luna in La Chorrera, the church of the Holy Angel, the hospital of San Lazaro, the monastery of Santa Teresa and the convent of San Felipe Neri were all completed in this era.

As trade between Caribbean and North American states increased in the early 19th century, Havana became a flourishing and fashionable city. Prosperity amongst the burgeoning middle-class led to expensive new classical mansions being erected. During this period Havana became known as the Paris of the Antilles.

After the revolution of 1959, the new regime promised to improve social services, public housing, and official buildings. Nevertheless, shortages that affected Cuba after Castro’s abrupt expropriation of all private property and industry under a strong communist model backed by the Soviet Union followed by the U.S. embargo, hit Havana especially hard. As a result, today much of Havana is in a dilapidated state.

In Old Havana, effort has also gone into rebuilding for tourist purposes, and a number of streets and squares have been rehabilitated. Below an impression of buildings and art in Havana.