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Journey Into Old Havana's Vibrant History

With diverse indigenous, African, and European roots, Havana’s culture and architecture reflect Cuba’s complex history of conquest, slavery, liberation, and revolution. Chosen for its strategic location on the island’s northwestern coast, in the early sixteenth century, Havana grew into the largest port in Spain’s Caribbean colonies. The original layout of Habana Vieja—Old Havana—is still intact. Building ordinances in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries preserved the city’s architectural integrity. Wrought-iron gates, internal courtyards, and stone colonnades adorn the buildings of its five main plazas. Among some 900 surrounding historic structures, a few highlights include the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, one of the oldest existing forts in the Americas, the eighteenth-century Catedral de La Habana on the plaza by the same name, and the Museo de la Ciudad, housed in a baroque palace on Havana's original town square.Even with international recognition, the work of preserving the historic city center remains ongoing.Visitors from around the world flock to Cuba for its pristine beaches, exciting nightlife, and a fascinating, blended cultural heritage of art, music, and design.Traveling to Cuba is much easier for U.S. citizens than it used to be, but check the State Department website for any current advisory notices.
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