Havana, a tourist destination par excellence in the largest Antillean island, possesses an invaluable wealth of traditions and history, accumulated during more than four and a half centuries.
The Cuban capital, once called Village of San Cristóbal de La Habana, is one of the most relevant exponents of colonial architecture in Cuba, marked by a notoriety that dates back to the late 16th century, with singular characteristics despite a strong Spanish influence.
Also called the Bastion City of the West Indies and the Key to the New World, Havana is a unique living museum showing the most diverse architectural styles, which represent the different stages in the development of the historical city.
Its defensive system, which includes the emblematic Castle of the Three Kings of Morro, comprised nine big fortresses that became the most outstanding exponents of their kind in Spanish-speaking America, according to experts.
One of those fortresses is the Castle of the Royal Force (completed in 1577), which paved the way for Renaissance designs in military constructions in the continent. Its style predominated in Spain under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs and was called "Elizabethan".
Nearly 140 buildings in the historic heart of the Cuban capital were constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, 200 others were built in the 18th century and more than 460 in the 19th century.
Several plazas were built in Havana, among which the famous Arms Square, Cathedral Square, Old Square, and the San Francis of Assisi Square stand out, the latter constructed in front of the church and convent of same name.
The centennial city still preserves distinctive features such as the Prado Promenade and the well-known Alameda de Paula - the latter built during the second half of the 18th century. Both places became favorite spots for city dwellers hundreds of years ago.
When the Walls of Havana were brought down in 1863, due to the winds of expansion blowing over the city at the time, growth beyond the walls was influenced by the most different architectural styles.
Renaissance and art deco go hand in hand throughout the city, accompanied by other styles such as Mudejar, baroque, neoclassicism, eclecticism, art nouveau and Cuban baroque.
An outstanding exponent of Cuban baroque is the Palace of the Captain Generals, which façade is made up of dozens of big columns, and has a frontal street that still preserves its original structure of wooden blocks.
Many of these buildings and historical sites, in perfect state of conservation and almost untouched by the passage of time, are open, as a safe destination, to thousands of vacationers who bet on the Cuban capital to enjoy their leisure time.