Havana is the true essence of Cuba.

It is the capital, the economic and cultural hub, the country’s biggest city and the place where you can find the main port. It’s one the most beautiful cities in the world and the old town with its fortification systems was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

It was officially founded in 1519 by the Spanish and it then got the name of San Cristóbal de la Habana. San Cristóbal was the name of the patron saint of the day when it was founded and La Habana was the name given by the Indians, who were its inhabitants before the arrival of the Spanish.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the port of Havana harbored ships that used the Bahamian navigation course. Its geographic location and its weather were crucial factors in order for the port to become a safe haven for the circulation of valuable fortunes in gold and silver.

A few years later, due to some attacks carried out by French corsairs and pirates, a defensive complex with walls was built.

African slaves were the main workforce to build those walls.

With the defensive system already built, Havana was still taken by the English. The modernization of the walls only took place when the Spanish reoccupied the city.

Currently, when we visit Havana, we can see several fortifications, including:

  • Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña;
  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza;
  • Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta;
  • Castillo de Los Tres Santos Reyes del Morro, better known as El Morro;
  • Castillo de Santa Dorotea de Luna de la Chorrera;
  • Torreón de San Lázaro;
  • Castillo de Santo Domingo de Atarés;
  • Castillo del Príncipe.

These are the fortifications that border the old city. Inside them, in its historic center, there are large squares, baroque and neoclassical monuments and buildings with arcades, balconies, iron gates and interior courtyards. We can feel a truly enchanting environment.

This was the place where the healthiest families built their homes and, at the time of the Revolution, they had to flee and leave those mansions behind. Today the houses are still inhabited, but they are much more degraded, due to the passage of time and the absence of maintenance.

I suggest to walk through the old part and to walk its streets by foot. Go there with enough spare time and let yourself be carried away by the music that you feel in every corner (read more on the Cuban music here – http://viajarpelahistoria.com/musica-cuba/). Havana seems like it’s inviting you to experience the good side of life, with warm rhythms that are heard throughout the streets and the colorful façades of the houses. Let yourself go…

To know more about this island and the rest of the Caribbean read here.