Captain General Residence and Museum of Havana!

And I am coming back to my Havana of childhood, never to be the same again. Well I have written pieces on it in my blog just do search; however, never a post alone and so deservingly. I am coming right at you on La Habana, Cuba. Oh yes I meant , the Captain General Residence of the governor of Cuba under colonial period of Spain.

This one was done way way back when a boy of around 10, so memories are loose. I have decided to use the pictures that I kept from the text tranlation of Ecured Cuba from Spanish to English.

To begin with,the visit Cuba tourist site has some info on the wonderful building here in English. Museum of Havana, Captain General

The place is very nice, historical and architecturally and a must to visit while in Cuba. In addition, the museum of which is, give you an overall look of Cuban history from zero. Again, if one building to visit in Cuba, this is it, in my opinion.

Ahh yes I am talking about the residence of the Captain General of Cuba (this was the governor of Spain in Cuba), over the years use for many things and now a wonderful museum of Havana, Cuba.

Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former parish church, as the imposing Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. It served as Spanish colonial government headquarters until 1898 and housed 65 Capitanes Generales (governors), after which it served as the center of U.S. military administration (1898-1902), then as the Cuban President’s resident, and finally (1920-67) as the City Hall.  The two-story limestone building was not completed in its final form until 1835; the façade is adorned with the shield of the city and features a deep loggia supported on thick columns. Peacocks roam the tree-filled courtyard, where a Carrara marble statue of Christopher Columbis presides.  It is today the Museo de la Ciudad—the fabulous City Museum telling the tale of the city’s history. The Captain General’s apartments are furnished in the sumptuous style of their epoch, as is the Salón del Trono (Throne Room) with its throne prepared for a visit (which never happened individually) by the King of Spain but it did finally when King Juan Carlos I visited in 1999 during the Ibero American conference.  The his and hers Carrara marble nautilus shell baths are particularly wonderful.

My pictures still with me should be from 1998 last family trip to follow:

Havana

Havana

Havana

Now let me give you the translation because in Cuba they have more information than anywhere else on the building and museum. Here it goes, excuse me if the lenght of it is long and my typing sloppy.

The building/museum is in front of the Plaza de Armas, occupying part of the space of the Parish Mayor’s demolition, the palace was erected between 1776 and 1791 . From its beginnings, it also sheltered, in the West Wing, the public prison until 1834.  This provoked subsequent remodeling to achieve the harmony that is enjoyed today. The city hall of Havana met uninterruptedly 176 years in the palace halls.  Since 1938, the Office of the city historian was based in the building, under the direction of Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring . In 1967 the municipal government moved to a new headquarters, so that the building began to be restored in order to allocate it to the Museum of the City of Havana, whose first showrooms were inaugurated from 1968.  The city Museum has 40 permanent exhibition halls, dedicated to preserving the memory of Cuban independence and the need of the search for national identity, until the definitive revolutionary victory in January 1959.

The different halls or rooms:

Sala Parriocal or Parish Hall: The passage through this room proposes the remembrance of the Parish Mayor or Parroquia Mayor, a primitive Church that opened its doors to the Catholic cult in the Villa San Cristóbal de la Habana in 1577, and that in 1741 was devastated as a result of the explosion of the invincible ship. Archaeological remains of its existence, jewels of the oldest churches of Havana, of the first religious orders that were established in this city between those that appear of Santo Domingo and San Francisco, as well as pieces of convents and portraits of the first Bishops, are memories of the Catholic Church in Cuba exhibited in this space.

Sala Giraldilla  (lady symbol of Havana like Sevilla) symbol of Havana has become the first molten sculpture in the city, Wind vane, done for  the tower of homage of the Castle of the royal force (Castillo de la Real Fuerza)  between 1630 and 1634.

Heraldic room  (or Sala Héraldica) small room designed for exhibiting objects and documents that testify to the importance that the Cuban nobility attributed to heraldic symbology.  Certifications of weapons, cleanings of blood, facsimiles of nobility titles, military orders, as well as banners or confectioners that displaying especially in the balconies on the day of Kings, allow us to catalogue the heraldic imprint of the Cuban family, on All of the 19C.
Room set B (or Sala Ambientada B) (19C) in the mid 19C, after the great sugar boom of the Creole Sacarocracy,  luxury is gala with its presence in the great palaces, and grows the importation of furniture and objects of art from the most diverse styles. Coupled with this, it increases the national productions in which beauty and good taste almost always prevail. From then on, the so-called eclecticism appears in the interior environments, as shown in the room, which also occupies the space of the first room in the museum.

Carriages room (Sala Cochera)  in the area occupied by the garage and Palace stables are exposed various models of cars: The Quitrin, introduced in Cuba at the beginning of the 19C; The well-known Break of English origin, from the late 19C, with capacity for a greater number of people; Finally, the Phaeton, convertible carriage and quite light. In the showcases are shown costumes calesero, objects related to daily life and caricatures in customs of the Basque painter Víctor Patricio Landaluze. Another of the relevant pieces is the locomotive, a remembrance of the first that circulated on November 19, 1837 by the station of Villanueva. This Cagney 15-type piece, manufactured in 1905 in the United States, is a jewel of Cuban railway heritage.

Sala Emilio Roig:  retains pieces belonging to the personal collection of Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, whose arduous work bequeathed fruit as the founding of the Office of the historian of the City of Havana in 1938 and the Museum of the city of Havana in 1942, located in the Lombillo Palace, in the Cathedral Square(Plaza de la Catedral). Promoter and founder of these institutions, Roig played the position of the historian of the city until his death. The room exhibits around the important work table pieces of the collection of Emilio Roig, among them an excellent caricature made by Conrad Walter Massaguer which recreates the members of the retail group, composed of transcendental figures of the Cuban culture that represented the most progressive wing of intellectuality in the first half of the 20C.

Pinacoteca : shows a series of important works of key artists within the Cuban plastic, covering different periods within the history of this artistic manifestation. In it, is possible to admire creations of figures of the 19C art, governed by canons of the academy, like Leopoldo Romañach and Armando Menocal; of representatives of the avant-garde of modernism in the Cuban plastic, among them its initiator, Víctor Manuel, and other prominent artists such as Amelia Peláez, Mariano Rodríguez, René Portocarrero and Wifredo Lam, who were interested in recreating the  Cuban reality, its cities, traditions and symbols, and a sample of the most recent work of our contemporary creators, who are launching to renew the universe of expressive resources, each one with its language and its way of seeing and reflecting the world.

Cuban copper room (Sala de los Cobres Cubanos) within the vital offices of the old City is the blacksmith, which, by its application in construction works, in shipyards, agricultural, industrial and defensive work, occupied a significant place in the development of the city; However, in the 16C there was an insufficient number of artisans to practise it, and it is not until the last decade of that century when by Royal Order the foundation of blacksmiths in the city began. In the room dedicated to the exponents of this noble trade, a great diversity of objects of domestic and military use can be appreciated, result of the tenacity and mastery of the craftsmen of the metal.

Sword Cemetery (Cementerio de Espadas) Bishop Juan José Díaz de Espada and Fernández de Landa distinguished himself during the first three decades of the 19C for his progressive and enlightened work. Among his many works is the creation of the first Necropolis, which took its name and was inaugurated in 1806. Sculptors and Quarriers performed beautiful marble works for niches and tombstones of this cemetery, where the homage is perpetuated in crowns with capricious shapes, biscuit flowers, metal sheets and glass beads, while the desire for preservation forged coffins of Iron. These works of funerary art, a reflection of the customs of an epoch and of the economic power of its high classes, were transferred, as the old cemetery closed, to the new Christopher Columbus Necropolis (cementerio Cristobal Colon), of which by donation of the families arrived at this museum.

Statuary and stoning room ( Sala Estatuaria y Lapidaria) the economic and cultural development of the island in the 19C enabled the abundant entrance of marble and the visit of Italian artists of more or less relief. In the main cities, elegant Marbre were introduced, which were given by private individuals and the town hall for Courtyards, avenues and public places. Many of the sculptures that are shown today in this room witnessed the life of Havana along with the stone tombstones of Jaimanitas or quarry that in former times beautified streets and precincts.

Spanish uniforms Room (Sala de Uniformes). The costumes used by the different bodies of the Spanish army and their attributes, including decorations, canes, sabres and others, are exhibited. Among the uniforms is the one of Ramón Herrera Sancibrián, colonel of the Corps of Volunteers who encouraged his troops to request the death penalty for the 8 medical students who would be shot in 1871.

Public office (Despacho publico) .This room shows one of the two offices with which was used by the captain Generals of the island of Cuba, where were attended the matters related to the political and military situation of the country, fundamentally. Among the personalities received in this office was the German sage Alexander  Humboldt, in 1800. Likewise, in 1890, the general of the Libertador Army, Antonio Maceo Grajales, was sent by this space, received by the general Captain Camilo Polavieja y del Castillo. In its showcases stands the first telegraph equipement that entered Cuba in 1865. In addition, several documents issued by the Crown and the general captains of the island of Cuba, including the concentration camp dictated by Captain General Valeriano Weyler and Nicolau, on October 21, 1896.

Spanish banners, flags and pennants room (Sala de Estandartes, Banderas y Banderines Españoles) flags, pennants and banners of different bodies of the Spanish colonial army are exposed. In the showcase are retained flag spears used to prevent the passage of Cubans on the enemy formations and thus avoid the machete, the main weapon of the independence fighters aka Mambises. Outside the showcase appears a shield representing the Bourbon dynasty and three Spanish flags used in combat.

Spanish armaments Room (Sala de Armamento Español) It gathers a small but varied sample of the weapons and allied equipment used by the Spanish forces in Cuba. They appear here from the primitive flint-key rifles to the modern mauzers, employed in many countries until well into the 20C. There are also regulatory white weapons, a valuable piece of artillery occupied by colonial forces, bugles of orders, and a handkerchief of military instruction.

Anteroom and Hall of the Cabildo (Antesala o sala del Cabildo) .The Cabildo was one of the forms of local government existing in Spain later applied in its Hispanic colonies. Once the palace of the general captains has been built, the Capitulars are moved to this room, which prioritized each step to promote the socio-economic and cultural development of the city. As representatives of the Creole class that held economic power, they introduced fundamental advances such as the application of the steam engine in the sugar mills and the construction of the first section of the Havana-Bejucal railway, in addition to creating Important institutions such as the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the country, the Royal Consulate of Agriculture and commerce and the first public library. In this room, Leonor Pérez, mother of José Martí, was veiled in ardent Chapel in May 1907.

Room of thought (Sala del Pensamiento)  It addresses the ideological currents that were manifested in Cuba at the beginning of the 19C, which constituted a sample of the discontent of the slave bourgeoisie with the regime imposed by Spain on the Antillean island, characterized by the iron control over its Products. The movement known as Reformism had among its most representative figures Francisco Arango and Parreño and José Antonio Saco. The Anexionismo,(Annexionists)  a trend that enlisted in its ranks to those Creoles who saw the United States as the only country able to procure the island the necessary economic support, had Narciso Lopez among its main representatives. To these tendencies was counterbalanced by the independentists,  initially supported by a group of students and members of the illustrated sectors, among which was highlighted the priest Félix Varela and Morales; But these ideas did not take force until the second half of the 19C, and their maximum expression was the first  cry of independence of October 10, 1868. The portraits made by the painter Santiaguero Federico Martínez, located on the wall , allow to visualize some of the most outstanding figures of 19C Cuban thought.

Heroic Cuba (Cuba Heroica) , After the failure of all the actions of the Cubans, either by the reformist way or by the annexationist, it will be shown that the contradictions metropolis-colony were insurmountable and the impossible annexation. And this is demonstrated by the independent outbreak of October 10, 1868, in front of which was located the radical and patriotic wing of the Cuban landowners, headed by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.  In a short time the war spread to Las Villas and Camagüey, but because of regionalism, caudillismo, divisions within the liberating army and lack of logistical support from outside, the belligerent did not reach the west, region of greater economic potential of the island and which supported the Spanish army. Therefore, after two decades of heroic battle for the independence of Cuba and the abolition of slavery, Yara’s revolution ended with the signing of the Pact of the Zanjón, which meant the maintenance of the Spanish dominion.

Hall of the flags (Sala de las Banderas) The halls of the flags are the most relevant of the City museum due to the national treasures they expose: The original flag that flew for the first time in 1850 and that, once the war of the ten years began , became national insignia; It teaches that it began this emancipatory feat, and others that put the ideals of the liberation very high. It also shows personal objects of the highest leaders of the wars of independence, among them belongings of Jose Martí, political chief of the Epic of 1895 and unifier of its forces in the Cuban Revolutionary Party.  Portrait on the fall in combat of major General Antonio Maceo (outside my native town of Punta Brava) , reflects a crucial stage of the last battle against Spanish colonialism, when it materialized one of the most important aspirations of the leaders of the Cuban wars of the 19C: the Invasion of east to west, to put to the island of Cuba on war footing for the fight for the independence.

American Intervention Room  (Sala Intervencion Americana) On February 15, 1898, the explosion of the American-flagged battleship cruiser Maine  was produced in Havana Bay, in which 266 members of its crew, including 2 officers, were killed. The funerals were held in the Hall of the Palace Council. The event was the pretext used by the United States to intervene in the conflict between Cuba and Spain. This war, called Hispano-Cuban-American, (but only Spanish-American in the USA still today)  concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, on December 10, 1898.  In compliance with this Treaty, in which no Cuban representation was involved, the Spanish authorities handed over power to John Brooke, the American military Governor designated for Cuba, on 10 January 1899. In 1901 the Constituent Assembly was convened to draft the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, a document establishing the constraints (Platt Amendement) that defined the future Cuban dependence.

Wicker Salon (Salon del Mimbre) .The wicker boudoir reflects the atmosphere that dominated the palace during the last two decades of the 19C. It highlights the art Nouveau furniture, artistic style that erupted in the late 19C and became fashionable in countries such as Belgium, France, Spain and the United States.  It also has pieces made by the jeweler and French modernist glassmaker René Lalique, as well as Émile Galle, Master in all the techniques that existed in the production of Glass with the company Daum Frères, founded in 1889 in France.  It also shows exponents of Art deco, French Gobelins, toys and a work by Cuban painter Guillermo Collazo.

Dining Room  (Salon del Comedor) Set in the style of the colonial palaces of the 19C, it is located in the same space that occupied during the colonial period and the first decades of the 20C, and where they offered great banquets to commemorate or to celebrate political events or Simply for celebrations sponsored by the Captain General himself.
The silver-plated copper trays that belonged to the General captain of the island of Cuba are integrated as original pieces. In the walls there are interesting Flemish tapestries from the 17C and 18C, hunting trophies and a collection of special attractive tableware that belonged to more than a hundred Cuban families.

Trinchante, Small hall that exhibits luxurious tableware and pieces destined for the service of table, between portraits that the American painter Elias Metcalf made for the wealthy family Ximeno.

Coffee Room (Sala del Cafe) It denotes one of those spaces destined to the receipt of the General captain. It highlights a set of room of knob of the 19C. A collection of pieces from the Millenary Oriental Art integrates the permanent exhibition with fans that use Cuban ladies during the colonial era. Works by foreign painters of the 19C such as Landaluze, Mejasky, Valentin Sanz Carta and Henry Cleenewerck, among others, can be appreciated there.

Infanta’s Room( Habitacion de la Infanta) ; In 1893 the Infanta Eulalia of Bourbon visited Havana, and during her seven-day stay she occupied this room that served as a bedroom for Captain General. The Habanera aristocracy hosted with parties and gifts, some exhibited in this room. Among the most important pieces are two portraits, one of the Spanish painter José María Romero and another of Esteban Chartrand, the main exponent of Cuban romanticism. Also significant is a set of furniture designed by John Henry Belter and two vases made with the technique of cloisonné.

Bath room (Sala del Baño) .Despite the fact that the Cuban tropical climate imposes a daily need for the bath, it is not until the middle of the 19C that the act begins to be integrated into the life of the inhabitants of the city of Havana. Until then, most of the hotels and private houses did not have a bath room, although the establishments of public baths, especially those destined for the male sex, were very crowded, and some became very comfortable. At that time the medicinal water spas were also very visited.
However, the most usual was the weekly washing with the Aguamanil and jofaina basin, with the complement of a touch of perfumes and flavourings. Many objects were brought by the aristocracy of Europe or the Orient.. The room displays French glassware, Czech crystal decorated by Mary Gregory, Chinese porcelain of exquisite firing, as well as pieces of Cuban silversmiths , and Italian marble baths in the form of snails or gondolas that constitute real treasures.

Room set A (19C) (Sala Ambientada A. The splendid way of life reached by the Cuban aristocracy in the mid-19C reveledan elitist interior environments characterized by the mixture of various foreign influences. Elizabethan period medallion furniture, French porcelains, English and Italian pottery contributed to distinguish these spaces. This piece that was available in the private part of the palace was used as a dormitory by the wife of the Captain General. In the room two portraits of landscapes were done by Esteban Chartrand.

White Room (Salon Blanco) . The Spanish and Creole elites selected recreational places among the halls of their elegant residences. The anteroom of the main hall of the palace was used as a complement to receive guests on holidays and space for musical auditions.
Decorated with Louis XV and Louis XVI furnishings, oil portraits and European porcelains, it preserves among its most valuable pieces two beautiful 18C Meissen porcelain vases.

Hall of Mirrors (Salon de los Espejos). It was the space of greatest political and social importance of the Palace of the Captain General. Photographs and documents of the archives reveal some important events that took place in this Hall: transfer of powers of the Spanish colonial administration to the American government, on January 10, 1899; Birth of the Republic on May 20, 1902; Funerals of Máximo Gómez and Salvador Cisneros, in the first two decades of the 20C, among others. Illustrious personages who visited the island in the 19C received in this enclosure, also known as Hall of the Besamanos (hands kissing), the homage of the Havana high society.

The webpage in Spanish on the above was Ecured, a Cuban site. Ecured on Museo de la Habana

Hope you enjoy, a bit long, but worth it me think. A must visiting Cuba and for sure if Havana is your destination, cannot missed it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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