27 May, 2009

Little Havana, Old Havana and New Havana – Cuba’s Capital


The capital city, leading commercial center and major port of Cuba is Havana. The city has a population of almost 2.4 million citizens it as we know it today became a city in 1592 when King Phillip II of Spain declared it to be the key to colonizing the New World. It has been alternatively attacked and rules by the Spanish, English, French and Dutch. Travel guides, when discussing the history of this city point out that the cause of the Spanish-American war precipitating event was the sinking of a United States battleship, the Maine in the harbor of Havana in 1898. Interestingly, it was once a major port of Pirates.

Today, strained relationships between the United States and Cuba mean that few tourists are able to travel to Havana. It is, however, a beautiful island nation whose culture, beaches and people have had a vast impact on pop culture throughout the world. It itself, the cultural capital of the country, has many different cultural attractions that include museums, ballet, palaces, fortresses, public squares, churches and avenues. It hosts several festivals each year including art, ballet, music and even technology festivals.

The government of this city has placed a high degree of importance on cultural activities throughout the city and many of them are free to the public. It is interesting to note that at one time, the cinema of the city rivaled that of Paris and New York. With the on-set of communism, the theaters all slowly shut down. Some Cubans actually call the city a cemetery for cinemas, bookshops and markets.

Old Havana, the original city, has recently undergone a restoration and the government is taking great pains to restore and protect the ancient buildings that are found there. Another interesting spot in the city is Chinatown – which was once the largest Chinatown in all of Latin America. It still stands today and is n important part of the city.


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