Havana, the main tourist destination in Cuba, offers a wide range of options to thousands of foreign vacationers who visit the city every year.
Havana, formerly known as Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana, is one of the best exponents of Spanish-colonial architecture in Cuba. Havana's notoriety dates back to the 16th century.
Called at the time the Fortified City of the West Indies and the Key to the New World, Havana is at present a living museum showing a wide range of architectural styles, as a result of the different stages of the development of the city.
Havana has several squares, especially the Arms, Cathedral, Old, Cristo and San Francisco squares, being the latter near the church and convent of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The nearly-five-century-old city also holds distinctive sites such as the famous Prado Promenade and the well-known Paula Promenade. The latter was built in the late 18th century. The two sites were meeting areas for local dwellers at the time.
After the Walls of Havana were demolished in 1863, due to the expansion of the city, the Cuban capital developed under the significant influence of the most diverse architectural styles.
The capital's buildings combine different architectural styles, including Renaissance, art deco, Mudejar, baroque, neoclassicism, eclecticism, art nouveau and Cuban baroque
The Cuban capital also has a centuries-old defense system, in which the emblematic Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro stands out. The defense system consisted of nine fortresses that made the most outstanding complex of its kind in the Spanish-speaking Americas at the time, according to experts.
Another castle, Castillo de la Real Fuerza (completed in 1577) paved the way to Renaissance design in military constructions in the continent, an architectural style that prevailed in Spain during the Catholic Monarch's rule, and was also known as Elizabethan style.
In Havana's historic heart, declared Humankind's Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), nearly 140 buildings were constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, another 200 were built in the 18th century, and more than 460 in the 19th century.
Classic hotels housed in old buildings are very attractive options for foreign tourists visiting Havana.
One of those establishments in Old Havana is the Beltrán de Santa Cruz Hotel, which offers 11 rooms and is housed in an elegant 18th-century mansion near the Old Square.
One of the most interesting options is the Raquel Hotel, which offers 25 luxury air-conditioned double rooms distributed on three beautifully decorated floors.