Learn about the fascinating history of Cuba’s capital through the interesting fortresses, lively esplanades and plazas surrounded with colonial architecture in its old town district.
Old Havana is an enthralling link to a lost world of vibrant buildings, colorful cars and 16th-century fortifications. The portside district has a reputation as one of the world’s most exceptional city centers, due to the Spanish colonial architecture, the effects of the communist regime and Cuban traditions. Visit the chain of fortresses to find out about this city’s unique place in history.
Among the main landmarks of this UNESCO site is the Plaza Vieja, a former site of executions, bullfights and parties. Admire the range of colorful buildings once belonging to the city’s aristocracy that surround the square. Enter the nearby Naipes Museum and the Convento de Santa Clara.
Visit the various fortresses, such as the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña and Morro Castle. The latter has an iconic lighthouse and a museum dedicated to these beacons of light. Visit the star-shaped fortress of the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, which holds the Navigation Museum. Gaze up at the replica of the 17th-century weather vane, La Giraldilla.
Another standout feature of the city’s old town is its esplanades. Wander along the 5-mile (8-kilometer) Malecón, which hugs the city’s northern shoreline, for a glimpse into local culture. Jog along the iconic boulevard and encounter its monuments and dilapidated buildings.
Reach the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta near the central part of this boulevard. Here, the Paseo del Prado begins to run south through the heart of Old Havana. Admire the signs of affluence along this pedestrianized road, where you will find parks, palaces and many shops and restaurants.
While in this fascinating old town area, make sure to visit the former seat of government El Capitolio, the spectacular Plaza de la Catedral and the Museum of the Revolution.
Old Havana comprises the area within the old city walls on the western flank of the Havana Port in the northeastern part of the city. Take the train to the Central Station or La Coubre station and walk north to find the majority of attractions. Visit the neighboring western districts of Chinatown, Centro and Vedado.