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Cuban Places of Interest

Cuba is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean with a long and varied history. As a result there are many places of interest spread throughout the entire country. Here on this page you can find some of the places that are interesting to visit on the island of Cuba.


bulletThe sights and Sounds of Trinidad Cuba
bulletTrinidad Cuba - The Soul of the Place
bulletVacations in Eastern Cuba
bulletDiscovering Varadero
bulletSeeing Havana
bulletExploring Havana
bulletFerro Artesonal Nave San Jose
bulletAntiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco
bulletCastillo de la Real Fuerza



The Sights and Sounds of Trinidad, Cuba

By Emma Lelliott 

If you're looking to sample a slice of rural Cuban life, then a stint in a Trinidad hotel could be just the ticket. Located in the center of the island, the city is labeled as a UNESCO world heritage site and is a hot sleepy town filled with colonial architecture and idyllic cobbled streets. Here's everything you need to know about it, if you're considering making a holiday in Trinidad, Cuba a "must" for your next visit to the island.

The Town Itself

The main attraction of a holiday in Trinidad is undoubtedly the town itself. Photographers will have a field day, taking advantage of the charming traditional architecture and timeless feel of the place, while others will just enjoy wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. There are no cars allowed in the centre, adding to its charm, and visitors can take in the city's 1211 buildings, which are mostly made up of wonderfully restored colonial houses, painted in a selection of bright colours, topped with terracotta tiles. The whole experience of walking through the town is a mixture of fairytale beauty, Latin-American vibrancy and peaceful tranquility.

Mixed in with the pretty surroundings are a couple of notable buildings: a handful of idyllic churches, public squares and a number of informative museums each show-casing the architecture, archaeology and history of the old town. While nearly as attraction-packed as Havana, a stay in a Trinidad hotel has enough to hold your attention and allows you to enjoy your stay in a more relaxed and traditionally Caribbean manner.

The Beach

In addition to the days you can happily invest in strolling around the delicious town itself, Trinidad's coastal location lends itself nicely to hours (or days!) spent lounging upon its undisturbed white sands. The region has two splendid beaches - Ancon and Maria Aguilar - and both of them are local to the town and some of the best on the south coast. As for what you do there, you are largely free to pursue your interests - you can relax in the sun, go swimming or enjoy some water sports. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it though is snorkelling or scuba diving, as visitors can roam amongst the wide selection of sponges, gorgonians, sea fans, black coral and various colourful tropical fish. Those wanting a premiere dive site can find many in Cuba, whilst Trinidad's coast is a nice plus for those who want to dive as an extra, rather than as the main focus of their trip...

The Nature Reserve

Trinidad itself is set in an absolutely stunning setting, nestled between the Sierra de Escambray Mountains and gorgeous coastline. If you want to feel even more at home with nature though, the Topes de Collantes Natural Park features an impressive selection of plants and birds, set high up in the mountains. Visitors can expect to see a selection of wildlife include various colourful birds, ferns, and precious wood trees.

The Old Sugar Mills

The city of Trinidad isn't the only historical point of interest in the area to be granted UNESCO heritage status. The Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) is a group of three valleys that were the island's centre for sugar production between the 18th and late 19th century. The whole area is approximately 100 square miles, and includes the sites of more than 70 former sugar mills. Many of them are now in a bad state of repair, but the region's inherent beauty and the history contained within the area makes it well worth a look for those staying locally in one of Trinidad's hotels.

Far from the tanned crowds of Varadero, and the (comparatively) bustling city life of Havana, a holiday in Trinidad presents a whole new example of Cuban life that many tourists miss completely. From the charming town, to the relaxed beach and the enchanting local attractions, Trinidad, Cuba, is the perfect place to stay to sample rural life on the island, and to get away from the hectic pace of life in the UK.


Emma Lelliott is the General Manager of Captivating Cuba, an independent specialist in Trinidad holidays and hotels. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba can help you tailor-make the perfect Cuban holiday experience.

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Trinidad Cuba – The Soul of the Place

By Brian Ramsey

Founded in 1514, the city of Trinidad in Cuba is over 500 years old. Said to be the best preserved colonial era town in Cuba, Trinidad definitely gives you the visual impression of an old place when you see it. Yes there are cobblestone streets and historic buildings but when one begins walking you at first think, is that it, is it only just old buildings? It takes some time and then it hits you, they have preserved the colonial era. It is not just the buildings, it is the interior; the attraction of the place is on the inside. The preservation of the interiors gives the soul to this Cuidad.  



The buildings contain the period furniture, cutlery and pictures. This is a living museum because the furniture is juxtaposed among everyday commercial life. These are restaurants, souvenir stores, art galleries with furniture reflective of earlier time periods but with the furniture placed so that you feel as if you are eating in a house and in the next room is the bedroom complete with made up beds. You sit and admire art as though you are in a living room from a bygone era admiring the owner’s art. As you walk along you can also look in the open doorways or windows of the residents homes and see the colonial era furniture still in use.



Along your stroll you can step into a Santeria temple and see the area for worship and the dirt backyard for sacrifice. Santería is also known as Regla de Ocha or the Lucumí religion and practiced today by people all over the world but is generally defined as an Afro-Cuban religion that originated in Nigeria and Benin in West Africa. The name Santería  is Spanish in origin and arises because practitioners of the religion  refer to the Orichas, or the deities of the religion, as saints or "santos" and so  the name is a loose translation of devotion to the saints, or santos.

You can also visit the Catholic Cathedral, Church of the Holy Trinity (Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad) which was completed in 1892 on a site of a previous 17th century church that was destroyed by a hurricane in the 19th century. The church contains an 18th-century wooden statue of Christ, "The Lord of the True Cross" ("El Señor de la Vera Cruz") which is an object of particular reverence in Trinidad. Originally destined for a church in Veracruz in Mexico, the ship carrying the statue was driven back to Trinidad three times by bad weather and was only able to make the journey after abandoning part of its cargo which included the statue of Christ. This was taken as divine intervention by the local population and the statue has been housed in the church ever since. Within these hallowed halls you can admire the elaborate Stations of the Cross.


The preservation of this town has also preserved the manners and speed of life of times past. All over Cuba there is art for sale, colorful, vibrant art depicting facets of Cuban life but in Trinidad you can go into the small galleries and meet the artist who created these scenes and who will stop their painting and explain about the painting plus help you select a picture.

The town has a timeless quality and a pleasant way to spend part of the day is sitting in a square under the shade of the trees watching the horse drawn carriages transporting people, while little children walk home from school to have their lunch. You can sit in the square and listen to a group of old men playing music and then chatting. The music is so good and blends so well with the atmosphere that tourists stop and dance or sit and sway to the music. It seems as if their minds’ say, Yes this is a holiday; my cares and troubles are far away.


The entire town reflects the colonial period but the historic heart is the best. It is here that life slows to a less than modern pace, where even the dogs doze under the shade of the benches. At nights on the steps next to the Cathedral there are live bands performing and people come to dance to salsa and rumba, with restaurants and bars encircling the steps and waiters ready to fill your orders.



By Brian Ramsey

The city of Cienfuegos is situation on the Caribbean coast in south-central Cuba. Many of the tour buses that run from Havana to the city of Trinidad stop in the town to allow visitors to stretch their legs and also admire the city. In walking around the city it feels different from other towns in Cuba. In part that difference is because Cienfuegos is the only town in Cuba that was founded by the French and so it has wider streets and French influence on some of the architecture.

The majority of the buses stop in the city centre called Pueblo Nuevo which has a wide plaza that is easy to walk around.  If you do not feel like walking you can take one of the horse drawn carts called coches.  Among the sites to be visited in the city center, Parque Jose Marti, is the Teatro Tomas Terry which is an Italian styled theater built in 1890 and made a national monument in 1978 and won a conservation award in 2008. Another beautiful building around the park is the Cienfuegos Cathedral which was built in 1869 and has lovely French stained glass windows. There is the striking Government Palace and the Palacio Ferrer. The entire Cienfuegos city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.

You can see some of these sites in our video below of the Parque Jose Marti



For those who want to spend more than an afternoon in Cienfuegos, there is the Punta Gorda peninsula which has many 1950’s style homes and a lovely waterfront.  Also in Cienfuegos is the Jagua Castle which was built in the 17th century and has the usual cannons, pistols, swords and hand-written documents from centuries past. There is also the Museo Historico Naval de Cenfuegos that is a former naval fort that has been converted into a museum and traces the history of Cuba.



Vacations in Eastern Cuba

By Giselle Rodriguez  

Santiago de Cuba, located between the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Maestra mountain range, is the Eastern capital and home of the Cuban Son, which is the father of all Cuban rhythms of this century. It is the capital of the Santiago de Cuba Province in the eastern region of the island and the country's second largest metropolis. This city, rich in culture, tradition, and also in natural and architectural treasures, provides travelers with amazing experiences in their Cuba vacations. From hill-walking and mountaineering to historical and cultural tours, Santiago de Cuba is a destination that will not disappoint you.

For those who love nature and who enjoy mountain-climbing and hill-walking activities, Santiago de Cuba offers several points of interest like: the Sierra Maestra mountain range and Baconao Biosphere Reserve, where La Gran Piedra (The Great Stone) stands out.

The rugged topography of the Sierra Maestra, with elevations of up to 1,300 m above sea level, is unique in the island and famous for its landscapes of breathtaking beauty and unbelievable variety. Among these elevations are the three highest peaks of Cuba: the Pico Real del Turquino with 1,974 m, the Pico Cuba with 1,872 m and the Pico Suecia with 1,734 m above sea level. This scenery gives the visitor the feeling of being at the top of the island, and you can literally touch the clouds in the sky. It is an exclusive place where one can get the best view of the rivers, forests, mountains and valleys that surround the region. It's also considered as one of the most important well-preserved areas in Cuba, due to the great diversity of its flora and fauna. I highly recommend bringing your camera along to take some pictures of endemic flowers and animals of the zone. Bird watching is also a popular activity in this area.

Moreover the Sierra Maestra is an emblematic site where decisive moments of the Cuban Revolution took place. In an intricate zone of this territory explorers can find the Comandancia de la Plata, the First Front of the Rebel Army, a place with historical value.

If you are traveling with the whole family, Baconao Park will be an excellent choice in your itinerary. Located in the Sierra Maestra, the Baconao Park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve List in 1987, including three well defined biogeographic zones: the "Meseta de Santiago", the "Sierra de la Gran Piedra" and the "Meseta Santa Maria de Loreto". It incorporates beaches, mountains, lakes, forests and ruins of French coffee plantations. Visitors can appreciate a high biodiversity in flora and fauna, being a wonderful experience for nature lovers. Moreover, there is an International Diving Center and the Land Transport Museum, which exhibits over 2,000 miniature vehicles along with an exposition of vintage cars. Also, one can enjoy a visit to the Aquarium where dolphins and seals put an excellent show for both children and adults, exhibiting their abilities.

One of the main attractions of this zone is La Gran Piedra (The Great Stone), a majestic and magnificent rock formation. This enormous rock of volcanic origin is on the top of a mountain at 1,125 meters. Due to its gorgeous sceneries, this place constitutes a natural viewpoint. It is said that in the clear nights the lights of Jamaica can be seen from there. It's also considered one of the largest rocks in the world.

Have children? Take them to the Prehistory Valley, an amazing collection of reproductions of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals made of stone in almost their natural size. These fantastic creatures are disseminated on a wide valley surrounded by mountains, in the same places where the legendary animals should have lived. This valley is a great venue for photography. Kids will love it!

On the other hand, Santiago de Cuba is an artistic and cultural centre of great prominence in the history of Cuba. Visitors have the chance to enjoy historical tours in the midst of marvelous natural landscapes. Characterized by a solid historical background and cultural traditions, this city offers a wonderful display of historic sites such as the Cathedral, the first one in Cuba (1522) and the Casagranda Hotel which can be found in the city centre: by the Céspedes Park. Santiago de Cuba is the home of Cuba's oldest palaces and museums, including the Casa de Diego Velázquez also located in the Céspedes Park area. This zone continues to be a large part of the city's social life and it is known as Céspedes Park in honor of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a national hero also called the Founding Father or Father of the Homeland.

Among other significant buildings situated in the heart of the city is the Nuestra Señora de Asunción Cathedral. The Tour of the Revolution Square is also recommended. Best explored by foot, on your own or with one of the many guided tours available, Santiago de Cuba also has numerous museums and art galleries. One of the most popular museums is the Cuartel Moncada, the yellow barracks whose exterior is marked with carefully re-opened bullet holes, remindings of the July day in 1953 when Fidel Castro and a group of rebels launched an assault. It treasures the rebels' weapons, bloodstained uniforms, photographs, letters, and other documents. There's also the Granjita Siboney Museum, which was the place of gathering for the attack of the Moncada garrison. It now shows memorabilia of the assault.

Santiago de Cuba was the homeland of many notorious Cubans as well. That's why travelers can find in this city numerous museums that were the birthplace of famed figures of the Cuban history. One can visit the Native House of José María Heredia, one of Cuba's greatest poets; the Native House of Antonio Maceo, a leader of the war of independence and the Native House of Frank País, a hero who fought against the dictatorship of the 1950's. Furthermore, there are other historical sights to see in Santiago de Cuba such as the Museum of Carnival, which aims to give an overview of the great tradition of carnival in Santiago. It's also interesting the Emilio Bacardi Museum, one of Cuba's first museums that keep a valuable collection covering the period between the Spanish conquest and the Wars of Independence (from Spain). Other remarkable sights are the Museum of Rum that exhibits all about the great beverage and the Museum "La Isabelica", which shows some history of the French settlements in the area and displays farming implements and archeological objects.

One more historic attraction is the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. This large cemetery is a small city of the dead, populated by elaborate marble tombs including several spectacular mausoleums. One of these belongs to José Marti, National Hero and one Cuba's most lucid and visionary men of all times. This cemetery gathers tombs for such historic notables as Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the "Father of the Homeland", and Emilio Bacardi, including graves from those who fought for revolution, like Frank País.

Another world heritage site: The San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle can be found on the outskirts of this historical city. This fortress is one of the most formidable defensive works constructed by the Spaniards in the island. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture based on Italian and Renaissance design principles". From this fortification the visitor can see the whole bay of Santiago de Cuba where took place the famous naval battle in 1898 between US and Spanish troops. The fortress now houses the Museum of Piracy.

Santiago de Cuba is also a centre of great religious importance. Located about 20 km far from the city the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre Sanctuary) is the most important shrine in the island. The walls of the church are laden with gifts from people that were healed or asked for the Virgin's blessing. Many are the visitors who come to Santiago to climb the hill of this sanctuary dedicated to the Patron Saint of Cuba. Some of them come to keep a promise, others take offerings which are added to the hundreds of pieces and objects that have been dedicated to the Virgin among which, is Hemingway's Nobel Prize medal. Some people often collect copper stones from the mine close to the church.

Finally, a journey to Santiago de Cuba would not be complete without sampling its cultural activities. Santiago de Cuba is famous for its celebrations, including the Festival of Caribbean Culture sometimes known as the Feast of Fire, and the popular Santiago Carnival which takes place every July. With the many festivals it holds, the city is called the cultural capital of the Caribbean.

Even though July in Santiago de Cuba tends to be extremely hot, it's probably the best time to enjoy its famous festivities. When the carnival begins in Santiago the whole city turns into one big party. What most characterize the carnival are the congas, which can be heard in areas such as Trocha or on any street. Contagious drum rhythms draw local people and visitors alike into one long flowing dance. Popular orchestras make their way to Santiago for the festivities. For the locals: music to dance to and plenty of beer is enough to make the carnival a success.

For those who appreciate other cultural pursuits and those who favor music and nightlife, Santiago de Cuba has its share of things to offer. Many music and dance venues exist such as the Casa del Caribe where tourists go for authentic Afro-Cuban shows and lessons; but Tropicana Santiago deserves a required visit. It is called the Cabaret of the Caribbean and it is considered one of the largest nightclubs in Cuba. The fame of Tropicana Santiago's shows has gone beyond Cuban borders, thus is a popular place if you are seeking night-time entertainment. However, there are other trendy places like the Trova House, a bar club where visitors can enjoy Cuban and Santiago's traditional music. Furthermore, the Heredia Street, very famous for its intense cultural and social life, leads visitors to better discovery of the best exponents of "son", bolero and a unique movement of troubadours.

Giselle Rodriguez is a Blogger at Umbrella Travel a Cuba Travel receptive agency in Cuba with over 10 years of experience providing accommodation in the island

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Discovering Varadero on Your Cuba Holidays

By Robert Santry 

Whilst many visitors on their Cuba holidays are more than content to lie on the warm, sandy beaches of Varadero and make the most of the various all-inclusive cocktail bars offered at their luxury Cuban hotels, there is also plenty to explore in the surrounding area for the more active tourist.

One of the main attractions of Varadero is the stunning caves that make up the region, of which the most popular are the Bellamar Caves, featuring stalagmite formations and carsick crystals. But whilst these natural elements may both be considered breathtaking, what really sets the Bellamar Caves apart from any other are the painted frescoes on the cave walls. These, along with the fossilised remains, show evidence that they were inhabited many years ago.

The Delfinario is definitely worth visiting on your Cuba holidays, particularly if you plan on travelling with young children. This venue is both the place to go to swim with dolphins and to attend one of the world-famous dolphin shows. The dolphins are kept in a natural fresh-water lagoon and approach their keeper when they want to appear in the show, and not vice-versa. Whilst adults can enjoy a couple of hours swimming with these playful porpoises, smaller children can be carried into the water in life-jackets for photographs.

However, the highlight of Varadero is definitely the native flora and fauna of the area. Varadero is located in Cuba's Matanzas Province, which is best known as the region where The Bay of Pigs Invasion took place. The Cienaga De Zapata nature reserve, located in this area, is the only place in the world that you can spot the rare bee hummingbird. On your Cuba holiday, joining a bird-watching tour is your best bet of spotting one of these elusive birds. This is because the qualified guides, that lead the tours, not only know all the signs to watch out for, but also the most popular nesting areas in the national park. As well as bee hummingbirds, a tour of the Cienaga De Zapata National Park will give you the opportunity to spot native birds, such as the Cuban crow and the Neotropical Cormorant. This National Park is considered by many avid ornithologists to be the best place in the world for bird-watching, and as such the guides who work in the area are passionate about what they do. Many of them can even emulate the cries and catcalls of numerous Cuban birds, which is definitely worth seeing on your holidays in Cuba.

Located a short walk away from Cienaga De Zapata is the Criadero Cocodrillo Centre; the largest crocodile centre in Cuba. Criadero has been instrumental in the breeding of the Cuban crocodile, a crocodile, which is currently only found in the wild at the Cienaga De Zapata Swamps. Holding one of the centre's baby crocodiles is both a rare and thrilling privilege, which will provide the perfect ending to your Cuba holiday.

About the Author

Rob Santry is a Cuba holiday expert for key2holidays, an online tour operator offering Cuba holidays, as well as trips to Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Egypt, the Far East, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. Key2holidays has a dedicated team of experienced travel consultants to share their knowledge and help you to plan and book your ideal holiday.


Seeing Havana

By Brian Ramsey

Havana is a city with much to see. A quick way to see the sights is take a Havana Bus Tour. On the tour you ride in an open air double decker bus for about 2 hours while your guide points out the sights around the city. A very nice feature of this tour is that you can hop on and hop off at any time. If you see something interesting that you want to see in more detail you can get a ticket from the guide and hop off the bus. Later that day when another tour bus comes along you simply present your ticket and hop on.

While the bus tour is interesting, you only get to see a few of Havana’s attractions, the best way to see Havana is to walk the streets. The area around Parque Central in Havana Viejo (Old Havana) is the best for this type of sightseeing.  The hotel can provide you with a map of the streets with attractions marked on the map or you can come armed with your map, a comfortable pair of walking shoes, your camera and off you go.


Around Parque Central are many majestic restored buildings but all over Havana Viejo there are lovely old buildings. In addition to the old buildings are innumerable museums as well as restored fortifications. Almost all the streets seem to lead to a different plaza with statues of Cuban Heroes, fountains and benches for relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. Of course in walking the streets you get to see all the vintage cars that Cubans have kept running over the years.


A very good street to a walk along is Calle Obispo which is just off Parque Central and which has shops, museums, the Ernest Hemmingway house, a craft market and several restaurants and bars. Even at nights Havana is an attractive place full of music, restaurants, bars and people out in the streets.



By Frank Benitez

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 splendid 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:

  1. Plaza de la cathedral
  2. Plaza de armas
  3. Palacio de los capitanes Generales
  4. Plaza de San Francisco
  5. Plaza vieja
  6. Colonial art museum
  7. Jose Marti museum
  8. 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:

  1. The Capitol
  2. Paseo del Prado
  3. Hotel Inglaterra
  4. The National fine arts museum
  5. 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 revolución, 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:

  1. Jose Marti Memorial
  2. Necropolis Colon Cemetery
  3. Casa de las Americas
  4. Plaza de la revolucion
  5. El malecon (starts at Vedado and ends at Old Havana)
  6. The Hotel Nacional

Some other places to see are the Morro fortress, San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress and plenty more.

If you want to know more about the author please visit his website. For more info about Cuba and other destinations

For scenes of downtown Havana you can look at the video



Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose

By Brian Ramsey

Throughout Havana there are craft markets selling souvenir items and it seems that every street has a downstairs apartment that has been converted into a store selling craft items. The Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose however is unique as it is a huge covered warehouse that sells every imaginable souvenir and is certainly the largest souvenir market that I have ever seen. The market is so large that it is organized by streets. Within its confines you can find paintings, clothing, jewellery, leather goods, sculptures and anything else that you can think of as a gift item.  It also has a cambio, snack bars and bathrooms.

One thing that is noticeable about the paintings is that they are vibrant and full of color depicting scenes of Cuban life. One recurring theme in many of the paintings is the classic American car. It is a central feature of Cuban life and they are glorified in the art. Another dominant theme is music. Everywhere in Cuba is filled with Cuban music and the enjoyment of music plus the players who produce that music are brought to life in the paintings. Cuba has a well deserved reputation for producing fine cigars and this theme is also depicted in many of the paintings on display.

Walking through a large market can get hot but this is one market that is very cool because it is located on the waterfront and the cool ocean breezes blow through the market.




Antiguo Almacen de la Madera Y El Tabaco

By Brian Ramsey

Located on the waterfront in Havana next to the Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose Craft Market, this converted warehouse is a great location to relax at after a busy time of shopping.  Specializing in the production of craft beer, you can sit inside the warehouse or outside along the sea front and enjoy a beer made on the premises. If you are a real beer lover, among the distinctive features of the establishment are its tall glass jugs, tarros, which can hold up to six pitchers of beer. As this is a mini-brewery, while relaxing you can observe the vats in which the beer is made and at times see the staff working on the production of the beer.

Apart from the house beers they also sell other beers and alcoholic drinks plus other non-alcoholic drinks. If the walking around has made you hungry they have a delightful array of dishes to satisfy your craving for food. The restaurant specializes in light fare, including grilled seafood, charcoaled meats and brochettes.

Adding to the atmosphere of the location is that they have retained some of the original warehouse racking while on the outside are preserved railway locomotives. The English translation of the name means Old Wood and Tobacco Warehouse Brewery and the décor certainly gives you that warehouse feel while at the same time providing a comfortable and spacious area. The railroad engines outside are reminders of the early 1900's when the Havana Central Railroad Company commissioned the construction of the adjacent wharf.


Castillo de la Real Fuerza

By Brian Ramsey

Castillo de La Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force) is located just off the Plaza de Armas in Havana at O’Relly and Avenida del Puerto. Construction of this fort started in 1558 and was completed in 1577. It was built to protect the port of Havana from English Privateers such as Francis Drake and the navies of other nations, plus protect the Spanish galleons that gathered in Havana to form the armada before setting off for Spain laden with the treasures from South America. The fort is considered to be the oldest stone fort in the Americas, and was listed in 1982 as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of "Old Havana and its Fortifications".

Restored with the original brick, this is a real fort complete with a moat.



While it is interesting to see the design of the fort and how it was constructed for defense, the more interesting aspect of visiting this fort are the artifacts contained within it. Many of these artifacts have been recovered from the sea as they were contained in Spanish Galleons sunk over the centuries. These artifacts include gold and silver bars, jewels, jewellry and coins. Also included are artifacts recovered through archaeological digs.

Another interesting feature of the fort are the models of Spanish and English galleons, clippers, ships of the line and other vessels. It is amazing to see the level of detail contained in the reproductions of these vessels. In the 18th century the Royal Shipyard of Havana was one of the largest in the world, and built nearly 200 ships for the Spanish Crown. One of the ships that was constructed in Havana was the Santisima Trinidad, built in 1769 and at the time was the largest ship in the world with 140 cannons on four gun decks. The Santisima Trinidad fought in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and within the fort is a four metre model of this vessel. The second level of the museum hosts many other historic and contemporary models of ships with links to Cuba and is also a good location for viewing the harbour and city skyline.


At the top of fort is a watchtower that was added in 1634 and has a weathervane sculpted in the form of a woman. Popular legend has it that the weather vane is to honor Inés de Bobadilla, Havana's only female governor, who assumed control from her husband Hernando de Soto when he undertook an expedition to Florida. It is said that she spent years scanning the horizon looking for her husband's return, not knowing that he had died on the banks of the Mississippi River.


To learn more about Cuba, visit our other Cuba Pages

bulletExploring Havana
bulletDiscovering Varadero
bulletOther Cuban Attractions
bulletCuban Scuba

To learn about the other islands in the Caribbean, visit our Island Adventures Page

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Last modified: February 27, 2018