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El Vedado: The Attractions of a Havana Neighborhood

Considered today the heart of the Cuban capital, El Vedado sector takes its name from bans issued in the 16th century on building roads in that pristine area, covered with forests that prevented access to the village of San Cristóbal de La Habana.

According to historians, the decision was also linked to the attack on Havana by the French pirate Jacques de Sores, after which that territory in the west of the village was declared "vedado" (banned), from the coast to La Chorrera.

The constructive development that began in the late 19th century meant an end to the forests, within a context in which the small hills of the former banned territory are barely perceptible among the streets, squares and avenues that conform the said neighborhood today.

El Vedado's origin dates to 1858, when the design of the first blocks was approved, a process that also included the construction of facilities along the coast, so that city dwellers could take a refreshing swim, and the building of a luxury hotel - Trotcha - and the first baseball field in the Cuban capital.

In principle, El Vedado was conceived as a residential area for the Cuban bourgeoisie, featuring a wide gamut of architectural styles, ranging from neoclassicism to eclecticism.

Gradually, El Vedado replaced the Prado Promenade and El Cerro neighborhood as the sector where well-to-do families built their new residencies.

El Vedado is the center of most activities in the city, and boasts a broad network of restaurants, discotheques, nightclubs, movie theaters, states institutions, airlines and hotels.

La Rampa is El Vedado's main area, covering five blocks in which the world-famous Nacional Hotel, built on a terrace that was a strategic military enclave during colonial times, and the Habana Libre Hotel, constructed over 40 years ago, stand out.

Record shops, popular markets selling handicrafts and the famous Coppelia ice cream parlor, as well as the Colón Cemetery, with its clean and straight streets whitened by the marble environment surrounding them, complement the area's panorama.

Walking along El Vedado's streets, pedestrians can enjoy beautiful palaces featuring gardens with exuberant tropical vegetation, and breathe Havana's fresh air, impregnated with the salty smell of the nearby sea.

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