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Cuban Culture

500 Years Of Havana

October 16, 2019

The vibrant capital of Cuba is shining a little brighter this year as it celebrates its 500th Year Anniversary. Named one of the seven “Urban Wonders of the World,” Havana has been seducing travelers for centuries.

500 Years Of Havana
Colorful classic cars cruising through the lively streets of La Habana.

Founded by Spanish explorers on November 16, 1519, Havana is riddled with history. Legend has it, the city was christened under the shade of a Ceiba tree that still stands tall in Plaza de Armas, 500 years later, as a testament of strength and resilience.

Today Havana is the fourth largest metropolitan city in all of the Caribbean. Home to world-renowned artists and musicians like José Fuster and Buena Vista Social Club, the city’s streets overflow with local talent. Museums, art galleries, concerts, and famous restaurants provide a multitude of captivating and nourishing cultural experiences.

Nicknamed the “City of Columns,” Havana boasts an array of architectural masterpieces. With its impressive scale and display of columns, El Capitolio perfectly exemplifies the city’s moniker. Commissioned in 1926 and modeled after the Panthéon in Paris and the US Capitol Building; it is just one of many landmarks that showcase Havana’s European and American influences.

The surrounding gardens were designed by Jean-Claude Forestier, creator of the gardens of Champ-de-Mars just below the Eiffel Tower. Baroque buildings and ornate churches reveal the Spanish roots that laid the city’s foundation half a millennium years ago.

The capital city is bustling with anticipation for its momentous birthday. Parks, streets and historical landmarks are being elevated for this special occasion, making the most of newly commissioned renovations. The celebrations are akin to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Munich’s Oktoberfest, and St. Patrick’s Day in New York or Ireland. The 500th birthday of Havana will be the largest event this year throughout the whole of the Caribbean.

500 Years Of Havana
Classic cars on display in Old Havana.

The streets will flow like rivers carrying dancers, musicians and classic cars over the historic bricks and pavement. In a parade of excitement, spectators can watch as local performers shimmy around the crowds in lively costumes made specifically for this rare occasion, enchanted by the mystifying sounds of thundering drums, trumpets, rumba and salsa beats.

500 Years Of Havana
Street performers dancing their way through Havana.

On the eve of Havana’s 500 Year Anniversary, fireworks will light up the sky with an impressive display of colors. The atmosphere will be a musical and artistic buffet, teaming with energy, Cuban pride, and pure joy. Locals and visitors alike will sway with delight to the rhythms of the capital. Never has there been a better time to visit “The Pearl of the Caribbean” and witness the island magic firsthand.

500 Years Of Havana
Fireworks light up the Havana sky | Konstantin Kulikov


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