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Alameda de Paula: The Oldest Promenade in Havana

The Cuban capital, founded in 1519 in its current and final location, is one of the major attractions of the island's leisure industry, receiving thousands of visitors every year.

Museums, art galleries, theaters, commercial centers, hotels and inns go hand in hand in the city, also favored by its architectural diversity, accumulated for nearly five centuries.

A wide gamut of architectural styles provides a huge patrimonial value to the city, where baroque, neo-gothic, eclectic, art nouveau and modern elements get together in perfect harmony.

The development of the formerly called Inner Havana led to the design of huge construction projects, one of which was the Alameda de Paula, the oldest promenade in the Cuban capital.

Considered the first boulevard in the city, the Alameda de Paula was built by Antonio Fernández Trebejo, under the supervision of Captain General Don Felipe Pons de la Viela, Marquis of La Torre. It was completed in 1776, when it became a true social and cultural avenue in Havana.

In the beginning, the Alameda de Paula consisted of a dirt road adorned with two lines of poplars and stone benches, which were described as a pleasant place of amusement for the inhabitants of the Village of San Cristóbal, which lacked recreational sites at the time.

Alameda de Paula (Paula Promenade)
Paula Church
Paula Church

In 1845, Mexican Engineer Mariano Carrillo added an arbor, which had been previously benefited during the mandates of the captain generals Salvador del Muro y Salazar, Marquis of Someruelos, and Gerónimo Valdés.

An ornamented marble fountain was built in 1847, a year that also marks the construction of many small palaces near the promenade, which have become treasures of Cuban architecture.

The Alameda de Paula takes its name from its proximity to the former Hospital of Saint Francis of Paula, which construction began in 1664 beside a church, which was also named after the hospital with the passage of time.

In 1730, a hurricane hit the capital and destroyed both buildings, which were reconstructed with a similar function and baroque style. The hospital and part of the church were demolished in 1946.

However, some elements still give the church a touch of distinction, like its isolation in the middle of a main avenue, a dome with an octagonal base and its façade, which consists of three sections limited by the superimposition of Doric columns on pedestals.

After restoration works, the church has served as a hall of concerts for baroque music, while the Alameda de Paula is an avenue of urban development interest, since it has recovered much of its original charm, thanks to the painstaking labor of experts.

With that history, the oldest promenade in Havana proudly shows enough conditions to be a favorite spot for tourists visiting the Cuban capital.

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