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Destination: Havana
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The city of Havana is the capital of the Republic of Cuba and was founded in 1515. Its founders called it Villa San Cristóbal, but the Indians of the area insisted on calling it Hotels. Due to its geographical position and the excellent characteristics of its bay it was given the name Llave del Mundo (Key to the World). For centuries, it was an obligatory stop for Spanish fleets, conquerors and adventurers. Nowadays, Hotels has two main areas: La Habana Vieja (Old Hotels), declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site; and La Habana Moderna (Modern Hotels), no less attractive and full of life and visitors.
The capital city of Cuba is the destination of choice for tourists who are on their holidays to Cuba with arrivals of over a million tourists annually. Havana is a tourist favorite for the multitude of wonderful sights one can see and experience when visiting the city. The capital's historic center is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and people from all over the world who come over to visit often marvel at Havana's culture, history, imposing monuments and distinct architecture.
Morro Castle
Old Havana has so much charm that only by visiting it can one capture fully the contrasts, sounds and colors that coexist there. It has the typical appearance of a Spanish colonial city, highly appreciated for its location as the perfect center for communications and trade with the New World. Much of the defensive system created in those years to protect the city from attacks by corsairs and pirates remains in place. That is why it is impossible to walk through the area without encountering impressive fortresses like the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta, La Cabaña, and the most unique of them all, El Morro (Morro Castle), located at the entrance to the Bay.
El Morro Castle
From here each night the lighthouse guides ships heading for Havana or passing by offshore. During the day thousands of visitors arrive to admire one of the most beautiful views that the capital has to offer.No less relevant are Old Hotels's plazas (squares), spacious and very beautiful, from where horse-drawn carriages are ready to take a visitor through the whole historic center at a slow, relaxed pace, tracing the cobble-stoned squares: la Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, la Plaza de Armas, la Plaza Vieja and la Plaza de La Catedral (Cathedral Square), the latter a popular choice for photos and post cards of Cuba.
Hotels Cathedral
Cathedral square
Hotels Theatre
Within this typical environment of yesteryear, you may taste the flavor of Cuban cocktails while sitting peacefully in one of the small open-air restaurants that offer a full view of the surrounding buildings and the passersby. The sounds of guitars, afro-cuban percussion, and troubadours will accompany you on your visit. Something you should not miss is El Templete on the Plaza de Armas. Here there is a ceiba (a huge tree native to Cuba) that marks the place where the first public mass of the Hotels municipal council was celebrated.
Hotels Theatre
Another point of interest is the Barrio Chino (China Town) with numerous restaurants offering chinese food at very affordable prices. This area is a reminder of long years of trade with the far east. Not far from here is one of the largest fragments of Hotels´s wall of defensive whose construction started in 1674 and finished in 1740. It was pulled down in 1863 to allow for expansion of the city. Lastly, we recommend visits to the miniature model of Old Hotels just off the Plaza de Armas and to the book stores and art galleries, and then, of course, a walk along Obispo Street to the Floridita Restaurant where you can enjoy a Daiquirí before strolling along the wide expanse of the Prado Boulevard down to the Malecón seafront avenue to watch a glorious sunset.
NH Parque Central Hotel
NH Parque Central Hotel
Modern Havana
Contrasting with the colonial atmosphere of Old Hotels stands cosmopolitan and lively Modern Hotels made up by several areas where one finds grand villas of the early 20th century mixed with architecture of the 1950's and of the current revolutionary period.
Habana Libre Hotel
One of the most populated areas is Vedado, whose main artery is the famous Calle 23 (23rd Street) with its Rampa, so-called because it slopes like a ramp down to the Malecon and the sea. The diversity of cultural centers, restaurants and tourist agencies give a special atmosphere to this zone that attracts Hotels's inhabitants in great numbers. Among the attractions are the Coppelia ice-cream parlour, focal point of a large park, the Yara and Rampa movie theatres, and the Tryp Habana Libre, a 23-story hotel that has as its facade a fresco painted by the prestigious Cuban artist Amelia Peláez.
Habana Libre Hotel
Other major attractions in this area are the performances offered at the Amadeo Roldán Theater, Cuba's premiere concert hall, and stage productions at the Bertolt Brecht and Julio Antonio Mella Theatres. Besides these cultural centers there are several night clubs that offer music programs, among them El Gato Tuerto (The One-Eyed Cat), the Jazz Café, the Cocodrilo (The Crocodile), the Habana Café and Dos Gardenias (Two Gardenias).
The district of Vedado also has several prestigious museums such as the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Dance, and the Napoleonic Museum, as well as art galleries such as the Casa de las Américas, Galería Habana, Miriarte, and others.
Hotel Nacional
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Riviera Hotel
Still another place well worth visiting is the Necrópolis de Colón (Columbus Cemetery) which has avenues lined by sculptured monuments of huge proportions and mausoleums of great craftmanship.
Modern Hotels has a number of grand boulevards, among them Avenida de los Presidentes, El Paseo, Carlos III and Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), the latter running the length of the pre-revolutionary upscale residential zone of Miramar. Along this beautiful avenue you will find major Hotels, foreign and local company offices, embassies and shopping centers.
Riviera Hotel
Deep sea fishing is available at the Hemingway Marina which hosts billfish tournaments in certain seasons of the year. Scuba diving is also possible at several centers in or near Hotels; and luxurious yachts can be rented for sightseeing tours along the Hotels coastline.
When speaking of Havana's attractions, it is impossible not to mention the famous Tropicana Cabaret with its formidable outdoor show of music and colors, the Café Cantante Mi Habana in the National Theater, and La Macumba discotheque, all formidable meeting places for music and dance.
Melia Cohiba
Melia Cohiba Hotel
La Punta
Finally we return to the seaside Malecón, a promenade much cherished by the people of Hotels. Every day it is visited by troubadours, flower sellers, fishermen, joggers, children at play, and couples who watch the sun set over the sea and take advantage of the ensuing dim light for private moments. Sitting on its wall, all these people offer the capital the best of their hopes, dreams and, most important, their friendly smiles.
La Punta
Hotels in Havana
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