Posts tagged ‘Cuba’

October 25, 2019

My trip to the roots where all begun ,Cuba!

Well this was a business trip with my company but took advantage with my assigned driver to see the family still there and nostalgic moments in my life. It all began here for me many many years ago. I left it in 1971. The comments are updated , but the photos are from 2012.

I took a long flight it seems endless from home in Brittany, went by car to Nantes airport;following the road N165 all the way to exit D201 Nantes Atlantique signs about 1h30 minutes. Then took a regional Air France flight to Amsterdam, Schiphol airport, change there to KLM for the flight to La Habana about 10 hours !!! lol!!! and finally arrive in Havana.

I stayed at a Casa Particular as was assigned this by the company in district of Playa, no fancy hotels for me!!! Stories about Cuba abound from all periods; blaming each other but no doubt the previous regime was better for the mayority. Proof over 2 millions have left already and several millions waiting for the opportunity while been politically correct.

havana

We went to eat at EL Palenque, the resto of the Convention palace nearby, great Cuban food, why bother with all those international places if in Cuba eat like a Cuban. Calle 17 y 190, Playa.. Ciudad de La Habana tel  (53 7) 203-8222 .

havana

We had not much time so I took a ride on the Malecon, went over to the old Church of San Francisco de Asisi, the Morro ,Fuerza ,and Cabanas castles.

Havana

havana

havana

havana

havana

We had business lunch at Restaurant 1830 at Calle Calzada esq. a 20, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana tel(53 7) 55-3090-92 . There was a special treat at a casa paladar on a fifth floor of a house but could not remember the name as it was at night and friends rode me there, we had lobsters supreme with a view of the city.

The next day I ask my assigned driver to talke me to my native town of Punta Brava, just in the borders of the city of La Habana, visiting family aunt and cousins (which by now left Cuba too) , I ate at a typical Cuban casa paladar in pesos nacionales, a dish of roast pork,moros black beans,yucca,tostones in garlic sauce, salad of tomatos and lettuce, plus coffee and four beers for two persons at 10 CUC or about 260 Cuban Pesos Nacionales. Just in Calzada (main street Avenida 51) before turning left to Guatao, the old Carretera Central.

havana

I went further inland to visit another aunt and cousins at Cayo La Rosa, (these still there) off Bauta, this was a huge textile plant (Ariguanabo) of 5000 workers done by Americans now in ruins. The village have not change much, and took a ride with my cousin in an electric moto on the town, crazy but a great and cheap means of transportation there now.  And proud of myself was able to take my local driver there as he did not know how,and I did it with so many years out just on good memory lol!

Of course in each visit i ate with the family and reminiscent of the old days, telling me what a nice guy I was !!!  Finally, it was time to come back again, and took my flight from La Habana Jose Marti International airport, very easily, this time in route to Paris CDG on Air France. The plane was full and cheapy company had me on economy class! but was bump up to Business Class , by asking and it shows the difference, very nice flight of 9 hours to Paris CDG. There change again on AF to Nantes, and took my car from the airport parking for the trip home after paying 54 euros of parking fees. Cheaper than renting a car lol!

havana

havana

I was hoping not to be the last trip like this, but this is October 2019 and not back yet; time is ticking and less family there. Even in the difficulties of that system was the same warm welcome by the family and the faces of the buildings even if change were still recognisable, and I look forward to the future when all can have a pleasant place to visit with family and no government mistreatments and inconveniences.

No webpages just for the memories update in my blog. Hoping you can enjoy a visit there under better circumstances and then tell me about it ok. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

October 25, 2019

A Church at Arroyo Arenas, Cuba!

And coming back to the roots, a bit of my old neighborhood, its been almost 50 years but the memories lingered. I like to tell you briefly as not much info on the internet on one of my sights when my dear late Mom Gladys passed by here taking a friend’s car or the bus line 99! We always made the cross sign passing by the Church of Arroyo Arenas. The blog is also a way to keep my history for eternity I hope and future generations can see it all.

The town of Arroyo Arenas is in the municipality La Lisa, city of La Habana, Cuba. It is located on the banks of the Camino Real (Royal route), today Avenida 51 (avenue 51). It limits to the north with the municipality of Playa, to the south the Cano – Valle Grande – Bello 26 and Morado, to the east with Punta Brava (my native town!) and to the west with San Agustín

Arroyo Arenas was granted in 1672 status of village by the Spanish colonial governor. By 1778 they still subordinated its existence to the city/hall of Havana. In 1780 the local city hall were constituted, corresponding from Arroyo Arenas to Santiago de las Vegas. TheCaptaincy were subordinated to El Cano and Bauta. The first was subordinated the town of: Arroyo Arenas.

Towards the last decade of the 18C, this seat made possible the foundation of the town of Arroyo Arenas, a fact that was recorded in 1790 when a chapel was constituted that apparently was attached to a house or room, separated from common uses. Likewise, in 1794 the first tile house was built in this town and in 1795 the hermitage of Arroyo Arenas was officially erected under the invocation of Jesús Nazareno del Rescate or Jesus Nazarene of the Rescue.

The location of this site on the side of the Camino Real to Vueltabajo was enriched by the migration of Canary island peasant population initially settled in Vueltabajo (the best cigars in the world and my ancestors the Guanches of Tenerife and Grand Canaria) . Its growth as a town is evidenced by the fact that in 1843 the Spanish Army Weapons Command was established there and already in 1846 it had 12 masonry houses, 7 of wood and tiles, 36 of mud and guano, a clothing store, 3 mixed, 2 shoe stores, 2 tobacco shops, 1 carpentry, 1 blacksmith shop and 298 settlers, of which 44 were slaves.

From 1878, according to the new political-administrative division established by the colonial government on that date, the city hall of the towns of El Cano, Marianao and Santiago de las Vegas were created.. To each of them the districts were subordinated to El Cano corresponded Arroyo Arenas, Barandilla, Falcón, Jaimanitas and El Cano proper; Marianao was subordinate to La Lisa, and to Santiago de las Vegas, the districts Bauta, Punta Brava ;and Guatao were subordinated. In the judicial order, all these municipalities were subordinated to Bejucal until 1880.

In the first months of 1955, the construction of a highway that would connect Columbia (army and airport barracks) to the central highway at the exit of Arroyo Arenas was announced. In April 1956 it was finished. The Hermitage and Country Club, were projected to link with the with the Biltmore Riviera, Boulevar del Biltmore and Montecarlo, which would extend to Novia del Mediodia ( roundabout call the noon girlfriend) . These projects were interrupted with the triumph of the Cuban revolution.

The Hermitage is now a National Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno del Rescate , located at the Central Highway (that goes from one point to the other of the island country) and here it is call Avenida 51 building no. 26455. The same route that passes by my native town. The Church was erected in 1795, under the invocation of Jesus of Nazareno del Rescate. But the church instead of one, has two stairs, the one on the right where the ladies went up distributing alms, and the one on the left that has more steps, 29 in total. In general, here, women and humble men, the true devotees, those that Jesus did not expel from his temple were climbing. Have one photos souvenir of our passing by it.

Arroyo Arenas

No webpage but the memories lingered. Hope you can appreciated and maybe one you can pass by it and make the sign of the Cross too , for me at Arroyo Arenas!

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

 

 

March 18, 2019

Capitol, Havana, a symbol of a Nation

Let me bring along a emblematic building that represent a linkage of the past and present, a symbol of what and where you are in Cuba and especially Havana.  In my early youth ,I spent many afternoon going by and on school tours to see the meaning that it was to the Cubans. Inside is a plethora of historical facts to better understand the country.

I am talking about the Capitol building in old Havana. El Capitolio as it is known in Spanish, built in 1929  to house the two chambers of the Cuban congress. Its was inspired by the Roman capitol and that which is in Washington DC USA. The building has a front neo classic style with a dome of 92 meters tall ( 303 ft).  It is located between the streets or  calle Pardo, Dragones, Industria, and San Jose. Inside it marks the kilomerter zero of all distances in Cuba with a diamond on the floor. After the Cuban castro revolution it house the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.

Havana

It is in the space where the old city of Havana walls were crossing built in colonial period by the Spanish.  The walls here were destroyed in 1863. There was a statue to queen Isabel II, and it was the start of the now Parque Central de La Habana or Central Park.  Part of the public work efforts by then President Gerardo Machado (later dictator too), the team of architects Cuban and French participated in its design and decorations, with an American company for its construction. However, it was the French ,who put together the urban plan of the Capitol and surrounding areas as in Paris.

havana

The details of the work made the building  207 meters long in its facade  which included a large monumental stair of about  36 meters wide ( 119 ft) , 28 meters long (92 ft) , and 55 steps with three rest squares . At the two sides of the end of the stair you have two sculptures made in bronze by an Italian  artist, call ” La Virtud Tutelar del Pueblo ” (the virtue of the people) , and ” El Trabajo” (the work) ,both of 6,50 meters high (21 ft).

To continue the description of this wonderful building, we come to the main central door with a lenght of 36 meters (119 ft)  and 16 meters high (53 ft)  all held by 12 ionic columns of granite.  It is here that the main doors of access to the building are place with 7,70 meters high (25 ft) and 2,35  meters wide (8 ft) as well as the sculpture in relief of marbre ,also done by Italian artists.  The dome with a high of 92 meters (304 ft)  was at the moment the fifth highest in the world with a diameter of 32 meters (106 ft).  It has 16 panels of which the most impressive are those covered with gold leaves of 22 karats .  The dome has a lantern with 10 ionic columns of which interior were 5 light reflectors until 1959 when taken down by the revolutionary government.  In this space you see the symbolism architectural of the sculpture of the ” La República” or the lady marianne under the dome done in bronze of  15 meters high  (50 ft) and 30 tons in weight that at the moment was the second biggest in the world under a roof.

havana

Havana

You come to the great room call the “Salón de los Pasos Perdidos” ( the hall of the lost steps, the most monumental of the spaces with almost  50 meters long (165 ft) and 14,5 meters wide( 48 ft)  and almost 20 meters high (66 ft)  that serve the interconnection to the two bodies of government the  Cámara de Representantes (House of Representatives) and the  Senado (Senate). These two blocks are organised in a rectangular fashion around two gardens with dimentions of  45 by 15 meters each (149 x 50 ft). 58 types of marbre, wood of the most exquisite in the country, decoration and ambiance done by an  English firm.   The wrough iron in bronze by  an American company,  the lamps by the French, and Italians, Germans  for the work in marbre, onyx, etc .  The diamond that mark the distances in Cuba is of brilliance of 25 karats the last owner was the tzar of Russia Nicolas II, and arrive in Cuba by Turkish jewerler that purchase it in Paris. Now you see a replica, the original is the the vaults of the Bank of Cuba.  Looking at the volume of its construction it is estimated that the Capitolio of La Habana is the third in importance for its monolithic construction in the world ,and the only one with its characteristics built in the 20C.

havana

havana

It is inmense ,the pride of Havana, and one of the most visited buildings in the city as of today. It was always like that, a must to see while in Havana. Just now looking at the pictures I am in awe of  its beauty and I have seem some beauties now living in France. Hope you enjoy it.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are

trip to Cuba private site good info and Capitolio

La Habana private site good info on city and Capitol

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

September 14, 2018

Two souvenirs from La Habana!

Ok this is just a nostalgia post on a quiet Friday in my Morbihan Breton of  Brittany, France. I am remembering my early life and thought about Havana , and search for some photos , hardly any left but at least the memories still lingered of what it was. My Havana.

When I was just a little boy back in the 60’s I remember my mother taking me on bus rides the 27, 99, 35 etc into Havana as well as with some friends and family by car; old Oldsmobile and Chevrolet Bel Air’s mind you.

One of the essence of Cuba is the cooking, coming from mixtures of races European, African, and in between some Orientals. The choices were big back then, and notice some resurgence recently with the easing of provisions for private businesses.

One of my old time favorites that I have found photos are El Conejito (little rabbit) and El Potin (coming from old French Gossips). They are still in my heart today thanks to my dear late mother Gladys or mima as I called her.

The El Conejito was created by 1966 in Vedado district of Havana. On Calle M and 17 . It was a sumptuous restaurant serving many dishes all with the rabbit as main course. I do not recall how many variarities of it they did but it was a full menu carte.  There is not much information now but found one popular webpage with some information on it here: El Conejito on Cuba Junky site

Havana

I remembered we always had to make reservations and it was packed back in the late 60’s. We would be visiting old Havana and on the way home we stopped here; just great souvenirs. Luckily for you,the restaurant is still there and I highly recommend you try it while in Havana. A family hairloom memory photo above. I believe they are still open.

The El Potin cafeteria restaurant was even closer to home at Linea and Paseo del Prado in Vedado district as well. This is actually a French name meaning gossip, and we really enjoy the cafeteria style sandwiches that are so famous in Paris such as croque monsieur and croque madame as well as French desserts like the Paris Brest! Coffee of course was sublime from the mountains in eastern provinces of Cuba like Oriente; where many French landowner colonists from Haiti settled after the Haiti Revolution of 1805 made them leave there.

We came here even more often I recalled, and sat by the terrace looking over Linea street which is a no number street in Vedado. It is one of the modern historical streets there. Linea was for the streetcar (tramway of today ) tracks that ran along this street. It was renamed to Avenida del Presidente Wilson in 1918 and to Doble Vía General Batista in the 50s, but people kept calling it by its original name. One thing that is peculiar about this street is that it has a tunnel across the Almendares River. The below photo was passing by car as had no will to entered, too many memories.

Again not much information online but the same place as above has some directions here: El Potin in Cuba Junky

Havana

I again highly recommend coming here, is not what it was but the feel of Havana and Cuba is still there, and you will mingle with locals. Enjoy it

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are

Cuba Junky

La Habana guide to Havana

Tourist office of Cuba on Havana

Ministry tourism of Cuba

Hope it helps you enjoy your stay and visit some unique places that are still hanging in there after so many years, around 52 years!!! And I will be back there end of Sept18.

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

 

 

 

July 25, 2018

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!!!

 

 

July 24, 2018

Presidential palace of Havana!

Let’s get back to the deep roots and come up with something written before briefly in my blog, it deserve a single post. Therefore, I have decided to tell you a bit more on the Presidential Palace of Havana, Cuba.

My previous blog post on Havana , spoked a bit of it ,and for reference here is that post. San Cristobal de La Habana

There are so many buildings in Havana, once the Unesco did a report that I lost track of it but mentioned 144 buildings of the 14C, 15C, 16C, and 17C in Havana ;more than on any other city in the Americas. The multitude of beauty is enormous even if the history is sad. Hemingway once call it the Paris of the Americas, and he should know some.

Havana

In 1909 the governor of Havana decided to build a new headquarters to host the Provincial government. The project was carried out by the architects Rodolfo Maruri (Cuban) and Paul Belau (Belgian), while the construction phase was assumed by the General Contracting Company.  Meanwhile the interior decoration was under the responsibility of Tiffany Studios of New York.  The Salon de Espejos or Hall of Mirrors, which was conceived in the image and likeness of the homonymous Galerie des Glaces or Gallery of Mirrors of the Palace of  Versailles, France. Its floors and staircases are made from the famous Carrara marble of Italy. The building, built on the basis of the canons of eclecticism.

In 1917 the history of the building had a transcendent turn that marked its subsequent destiny. At the end of that year, the first Lady of the Republic visited the works, and was captivated by the magnificence of the building and the privileged of its location. No more needed to be said, she turns to her husband , Mario Garcia Menocal, President of the Republic, and took over the necessary legal quibbles and dispossessed the Provincial government of the property of the palace. In the beginning of 1918 everything was arranged so that the building located in Calle Refugio No. 1 between Monserrate and Zulueta became the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Cuba.

The construction work followed its course and on January 31, 1920 the official inauguration of the Executive Mansion took place. The work, in all its details, was not completed until the 12th of March of 1920.

Havana

The palace building  has four floors: the ground floor served to accommodate the dependencies that secured the main functions; Telephone exchange, auxiliary offices, power plant and even the stable for police horses. The first floor welcomed the most important spaces of the palace: presidential office, Gallery of Mirrors, Chapel, Golden Hall and the place where the Council of Ministers made decisions. On the second floor was installed the Presidential residence and in the last of the floor was placed the garrison responsible with the custody of the Presidential mansion. The building is crowned by a dome clad in the exterior of glazed ceramic pieces that, at the time, was one of the highest in the city. In all, there are 38 rooms that speak of more than a century of struggles and heroic epics of Cuba.

Havana

In the building are present paintings and sculptures of representatives of the artistic avant-garde of the moment: Leopoldo Romañach, Emilio Hernández Giro, Enrique Cabrera, Esteban Valderrama, Esteban Betancourt and Armando Menocal.

At the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959 ,not much was decided on what to do with it and came some periods of neglect.  The first revolutionary Provisional Government was established in the former presidential palace. From there the commander in chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, assumed the position of Prime Minister and carried out the great process of nationalization of all the private companies that existed in Cuba until that moment; including the American companies that gave rise later to the US Embargo due to non payment.  Later, the former Presidential palace houses since 1976 the Museum of the Cuban revolution with  holes  in the wall of historical shots as if they were the bones of a saint, as well as weapons, tanks or boats (the mythical Granma that brought the revolutionaries from Mexico) that led to the eventual drastic changes in the country for the worse.

Among the most visited areas of the museum is the Granma Memorial, founded on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the landing of the Granma yacht. It occupies the grounds of the old Parque Zayas, which President Alfredo Zayas had commanded to build during the last years of his term, in honor of himself, in front of the South Gate that divides the Memorial from the Palace.

You read up more about in English here: Visit Cuba on the Presidential Palace, Revolution museum

And see some of the beauty of it on the inside on this youtube video.

 

Hope you have enjoy this brief description of an icon of Havana for different points of views and reasons, divided as Cuba has been for the last 60 years.  A must visit to understand the tumultous history of Cuba.

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

July 24, 2018

Well Havana does have other Churches!

Sitting back and looking over my photos, I realised that I as many like to write about the big ones, the Cathedrals etc, and famous Churches. Well , there are many wonderful temples that are not yet discovered or not enough and are just as beautiful and full of history and architecture that I like. This is especially the case with La Habana, or Havana, Cuba. The island nation has plenty of wonderful Churches and with loads of history and beautiful architecture.

I have decided to write about them even if long post, I just took the ones that I remember from childhood and got some old books at home out and even pictures;hope you like it. These are my favorites Churches of Havana.

As you can see from the list below, there are differences between the terms of Cathedral, Parish, Church and Chapel.  Religious temples in the Catholic Church differ by their territorial hierarchy.  The archdiocese is an area with several temples under the jurisdiction of an archbishop and the main church that is its headquarters is named Cathedral.  The parish is still in importance and has under its authority one or several nearby churches and chapels, the latter of a simpler structure. The hermitages are small temples usually far away from the towns.  The sanctuaries are temples to which many faithful pilgrims, where an image or relic is venerated or where a miracle took place.

For addresses and contact this unofficial site has plenty of info on Cuba and in this case the Churches: http://www.cuba-junky.com/cuba/help-churches-comunities-havana.htm

The official archidiocèse of Havana site is here: Havana Archdiocese webpage

Official Catholic Church in Cuba: Catholic Church in Cuba

And here we go!

Church San Francisco de Assisi located at Calle Cuba, Old Havana (Habana Vieja). Its construction began in the year 1548 and lasted until 1591, although it was inaugurated in 1575, it was completely finished almost 200 years later, with a series of structural reforms occurring from 1731 to 1738. The facade is located on the Calle Oficios where you can see three stone statues representing the Immaculate Conception, San Francisco de Assisi and Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It is composed of three large naves, which are held by twelve columns representing the Twelve Apostles, of the Catholic Church. It has a tower of 48 meters of height, which in the colonial era was the highest structure of the city for several centuries. The tower was crowned by an image of Saint Francis of Assisi, in stone, whose head was torn by the wind during the hurricane of 1846. A garden in honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta has recently been built in the back.  The Franciscans monks used it as a high school for centuries; they taught grammar, philosophy, theology and mathematics. The Spanish colonial government takes in 1841 the property of the religious communities and the friars moved to the Church of St. Augustine, relatively close to the convent.  After this the convent is destined as warehouse and office of the General Archive and the Customs of Havana. After independence, in 1907, it is destined to the General Directorate of Post and Telegraph. In 1916 it was transformed again to host the General Directorate of Communications, which would later become a ministry. In 1941 and in 1944 it had restorations done.  In 1957 it moved the Ministry of Communications , and the Cuban revolution, it is given the category of Museum of Colonial History and one that  incorporates many historical objects of religious character to its collection. It was located in the lower basilica of the convent, after restorations, a room of sacred music and chamber.

Havana

Havana

Church of Our Lady of Mercy ( Nuestra Senora de la Merced) also located at Calle Cuba , corner of Merced, Old Havana (Habana Vieja), aka as the Church of the Mercedes. You will have the privilege of knowing one of the most emblematic religious temples of the greater of the Antilles, of singular beauty. In its interiors it is an imitation of the Italian churches erected in the likeness of the one of Saint Peter, in Rome. It consists of three naves separated by monumental arches of half a point. They call attention to the abundant and beautiful decorations of shades of gold and gleaming yellow, which contrast with the chestnut of the benches and the magnificent frescoes of the ceilings. The luxurious murals, the images of the vaults and the rest of the works of plastic arts, make up a collection of paintings from the last quarter of the 19C thanks to renowned Cuban artists of the time, including Manuel Lorenzo, responsible for the lofty main section, and Juan Crossa, who decorated the dome and the upper edges of the vaults of the greater Altar. The mural of the lower part of the Chapel, which refers to a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Lourdes, is the work of Didier Petit, while the landscaper Esteban Chartrand painted the background of the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, located at the end of one of the two side aisles of the temple. They complete the constructive space the beautiful altars and the convent  annex, which maintains its original functions and is defined by a beautiful cloister patio. Father Geronimo Viladás asked that his remains be buried in La Merced after his death. Thirty years after he died, his desires were finally fulfilled and from 1913 he rests in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes within the aforementioned church.

The construction of the temple began in the year 1630 at the hands of the faithful of the Lady of Mercy. The process, however, required more time and effort than expected. More than a century later, in 1742, the section between the facade and the pulpits had barely been completed, as well as a poor adjacent convent house. For 1834, the government employed the building as a warehouse, housing customs goods, until in 1863 it was handed over to the Vincentian fathers. The occasion was celebrated with a big popular festival and with the revival of the construction by Geronimo Viladás, Superior of the Missionary Friars now responsible for the enclosure. In the new task the established community poor and rich again intervened. Finally, on January 31, 1867, the renovated temple was inaugurated.

Parroquia de Sagrado Corazón de Jesús y San Ignacio de Loyola (Sacred Heart Parish of Jesus and St. Ignatius of Loyola) ,located at Calle Reina # 463, Centro Habana, district;  known in the city as the Church of Reina (Queen), is the highest church in Havana and one of the most majestic. Built in neo-Gothic style, is the highest church in Cuba and one of the most beautiful, its elevated tower of 50 meters can be seen from various points of the city.  It began approximately in 1907 due to needs that had the Jesuit fathers to have a place dedicated to their trades, the area chosen was that of Reina and Belsacoaín streets, the first stone was put on August 7, 1914 and on May 2, 1923 was consecrated , inaugurated the following day. It has the fundamental elements of this neo gothic style with pointed arch, high pointed vaults, reduced walls, large windows and luminous stained glass windows.  The altarpiece was made in Madrid, made of alabaster, wood and bronze, was brought in pieces and mounted on site. From the Calle Reina, you can see the great image of the Sacred Heart, carved in wood, whose base is the central capital that represents the parable of the Prodigal Son and the two saints who make guard; San Ignacio de Loyola and San Francisco Javier . Within the Temple, there are beautiful windows with stained glass, representing the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, passages of the Life of Ignatius of Loyola and some Jesuit saints. The Church has a central nave, supported by six lateral columns topped by ornate capitals, those that end at the main altar, which highlights a gigantic image of the Sacred Heart in an attitude to bless the faithful. To the right and left they are accompanied by two lively groups of Jesuit saints, as well as other saints and church doctors. A set of five angels, formed with their wings deployed a docility there is a bronze plaque on the altar of the Mass, where Jesus Christ is depicted as the slaughtered lamb and standing, symbol of his death and his subsequent resurrection, accompanied by a multitude that He sings praises to. The parish count also, with one of the most elegant organs of Cuba. The floor of the central nave is made by elaborate mosaics of stone and Crystal tesserae, it has in its entry the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, which signify Christ, and Ji and Ro, C and R initials of the Son of God in Greek.  In the end, there is an ancient anagram of Jesus in Latin: JHS Jesus Homo Salvator (Jesus Man Savior).  The two aisles form a Latin cross, one is dedicated to San José (St Joseph), where there is also an image of the Virgin of Charity of Copper (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), patron of Cuba, along with the Cuban flag. The altar of the other nave is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and is where the tabernacle that holds the consecrated hosts is located. At the bottom of the temple is carved an image of the Virgin of Fatima.

 Parish of Santa María del Rosario, located at Calle 24  between 31 and 33 avenues, Cotorro district, built in Baroque style was inaugurated in 1776 was built between 1760 and 1766 and is known with the title given by the Bishop : The Cathedral of the fields of Cuba (Catedral de los campos de Cuba)  has a baroque altar of great beauty.  The gigantic altar still looks like its gold-covered spiral columns. It also presents four beautiful pendentives painted by the first Cuban painter of which it is mentioned, José Nicolás de Escalera. The first Cuban scientist graduated in medicine, Dr. Tomás Romay y Chacón, was baptized in the parish Church of Santa Maria del Rosario in 1764. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier married in this Church in 1940 something. José María Chacón y Calvo, a prominent  Hispanic historian and sixth Earl of Casa Bayona, was baptized in this Church. In addition, the Church was visited by Queen Sofia of Spain in 1999.

Iglesia Jesús de Miramar Church, 5ª Ave y 82 street, Miramar, Playa, Centro Habana district, the second largest church in Cuba. Built in a Roman-Byzantine style surmounted by a giant dome. Built between 1948 and 1953, it houses one of the largest tube organs in the world. The church murals, representing the 14 stations of the Via Crucis, were painted between 1952 and 1959 by the Spanish artist Cesareo Marciano Hombrados y de Onativia. The Roman soldier who stripped Jesus of his garments is a self-portrait of the artist himself.  The artist, also used as models for the murals by his wife Sara Margarita Fernandez and to all the people who contributed to the construction of the temple. The garden there is an imposing sculpture of 1.8 meters high  made in Carrara marble, replica of the Virgin of Lourdes (France).

Parroquia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario y San Luis Rey de Francia , (Our lady of Rosary and St Louis of France Church ) located at Calle 44  between 279 and 279 street, Guatao, Centro Habana district, this is the small town of the cemetery of my native área, and the Church is not far. Just for the memories; my native town Church is the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Caridad  Church of Our Lady of Charity, also Cuba’s Patron Saint)  located at Ave. 249  betwen  42 and 44 streets, Punta Brava, Lisa, Centro Habana. Again not much on it just for the memories.

Punta Brava

The first church built in Havana was on the grounds where the Plaza de Armas of Old Havana is today, its construction cost only 32 pesos and was destroyed by the French pirates in 1538. Some of the old ones are here:

Church of Santo Cristo ,at calle Villegas between Lamparillas and Lieutenant Rey streets.Old Havana. Built in 17C, rebuilt in 1755 and renovated and enlarged in 1932. When the Plaza del Cristo was created, in the year 1640, this Church was drawn by the Franciscan Order. Its position was destined to the culmination of the ceremony of the way of the cross that started from the Church of San Francisco of Assisi and was of the preferred ones between the sailors and the Navy that made stay in Havana on their travels from Spain. Originally built as a hermitage and converted in 1693 in auxiliary of the major parish, it elevated to the category of parish in 1703. In the year 1899, after the American occupation, it was handed over to the American Augustinian Fathers. In the possession of these, the residence of the friars, a parochial school and the private School of St. Augustine were built in the surroundings.

Church of the Holy Spirit  (Iglesia del Espiritu Santo ) located at Calle Cuba between Acosta and Jesús María streets in Old Havana. Original Hermitage in 1638. Tower in 1707. Vault of the Presbytery in 1720. General reconstruction and lateral nave in 1760, remodeling in 1847. The oldest Church in Havana.  Although the original building, erected as a hermitage for free blacks, and built  towards 1661 in the second parochial Church of the village, dates approximately 1638, very little remains of it due to the successive works of repair, reconstruction and remodeling that are carried out until the 19C. The tower was built in 1707, the vault of the presbytery towards 1720 and around 1760 an almost total reconstruction was executed that included the erection of new walls and the addition of a lateral nave. Other elements of interest in this temple are the funerary crypts discovered inside in 1953; The tomb of Bishop Gerónimo Valdés, found in 1936; And the fact that it was declared in 1773 as the only church in Havana with the right to grant protection to those persecuted by the authorities.

Convento e Iglesia de Santa Teresa de Jesus (Convent and Church of Saint Theresa of Jesus) located at Calle Compostela corner of  Calle Lieutenant Rey. Old Havana.  Built on 1707, the Church and the Convent in the second half of the 18C.  This Church is one of the three jewels of the Colonial Baroque of Havana of the 18C, as far as religious buildings are concerned, in the times of greatest splendor, the convent occupied a plot of 6,900 square meters which was more than half of the block contained in the Calle Teniente Rey and, between Calle Aguacate and Calle Compostela. By Royal Certificate of the King Charles III of Spain, dated in Madrid on March 14, 1700, the foundation of the convent was authorized, which was originally destined to the religious order of the Barefoot Carmelites. On January 28, 1702 was dictated by Bishop Diego Avelino de Compostela, the decree authorizing the founding of the monastery in the building that then occupied the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem (Nuestra Sra de Belén), with the houses and plots that he donated for the foundation of the east. The convent was called for many years monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites of Our Lady of Bethlehem of the Carmelitas Descalzas de Nuestra Senora de Belén). In 1753, the restoration of the Church that needed proper maintenance in the face of the deterioration of its ceilings. A few years later, the old walls of earth were replaced by stone walls. In 1928, the Carmelite mothers leave the residence because they were deprived of the closure that provides the order, as the height of the buildings that were built surrounding the monastery, specifically a building of the famous pharmacy Sarrá that It consisted of seven plants. After the nuns left the building that occupied the church and convent  was very much changed. In what was the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, another Church was founded with the name of María Auxiliadora, which remains its name today. Their gardens were abandoned and gradually lost the charm of other eras until they came to disappear. What once was orchard became a social dining room, in the part that gives to the Calle Compostela and in which it gives to the Calle Aguacate, in a child care center. The curb of the well and the cross that embellished the courtyard of the monastery, disappeared from the place many years ago.

Again ,these are some of my memories that are still there, and a beacon of hope for many of Havana. Plenty of history and architecture too, and if you are by there feel free to stop by, there are looking great after all these years.

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

 

 

July 17, 2018

A nostalgic look back, Gran Teatro de La Habana!

So  ,therefore, it is time to go back way back in my life when family immigrate and re immigrate we find ourselves with many nationalities and customs blending nicely thank  you. If you have read my blog careful, you will know that I have four passports! yes ! Welcome to the real world.  One of these passports is Cuban ,another is Spanish, later American, and finally I am French. However, it all goes back to the DNA and that is from Tenerife (Candelaria and Pàjara) Canary Islands of Spain.

One of the buildings that most explain the mixture of this immigration back and forth across the Atlantic ocean is embedded in Havana or San Cristobal de La Habana and the great history of the Gran Teatro or grand theater.  I was too young to visited, and when back had no time too many places to find your roots and show the new family. However, my parents told me a lot about it and I just passed by. It is time I give it the honor it deserves in my blog.

The Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso  as it is known today is located in the Paseo del Prado in the block formed by the interceptions of the current streets San Rafael, San José, Consulado and Paseo del Prado.

The theater has been home to the Cuban National Ballet and, on its main stage, to the International Ballet Festival of Havana. Its facilities include theaters, a concert hall, conference rooms, and a video screening room, as well as an art gallery, a choral center, and several rehearsal halls for dance groups and dance companies.

The  old Teatro Tàcon  across from the Parque Central (Central Park) had occupied part of the site for decades, it was named in honor of Captain General Miguel de Tàcon y  Rosique, governor of Cuba between the years 1834 and 1838 in the colonial period.

During the first years of Cuban independence when thousands of immigrants arrived in Cuba from Spain, a new building was constructed around it, preserving the original theater.  It was then known as the Centro Gallego or Galician Center, constructed to served as a social center for Galician immigrants to Havana. The building is decorated with a stone and marble statue as well as sculptures by Giuseppe Moretti, representing allegories depicting benevolence, education, music and theater. On the first picture below you will see part of the old ramparts walls of Havana over 4000 meters long at the time of Spain in Cuba.

Havana Havana

The old theater Tàcon was arguably one of the best in the continent for its elegance, comfort and exceptional technical preparation. Years later, in 1914, the theater itself and the buildings around it were purchased to build in that location the Centro Gallego, which took up the entire block.  The construction of this building, financed by donations of Galician emigrants, began in 1908 and it opened in 1915 with an opera season offered by important artists of the period. In 1985, at the initiative of the prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, the building was renamed the Great Theater of Havana (Gran Teatro de La Habana).

In 1961, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of García Lorca’s death, the board of the Centro Gallego announced that the theater would change its name to that of the Granada poet as  Teatro Garcia Lorca. Then in 1981, the entire complex changed its name to Complejo Cultural del Gran Teatro García Lorca, now under Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso Director of the National Ballet. Finally, in 1985, it received the name of Gran Teatro de La Habana. Following extensive renovations, the theater has reopened on January 1, 2016 and renamed to honor the Cuban prima ballerina Alicia Alonso or Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso.   The principal venue is the Garcia Lorca Auditorium, with seats for 1,500; it provides a stage for the Cuban National Ballet Company, as well as for other dance and musical performances.

During the 19C and 20C performances took place on its stage by artists of the highest rank, such as Ole Bull, Enrico Caruso, Fanny Elssler, Jenny Lind, Anna Pavlova, Antonia Mercé , Ruth Saint Denis, Ted Shawn ,Teresa Carreño , Vicente Escudero, Maya Plisetskay, Clorinda Corradi, Sarah Bernhardt, Wajd Alianabi, Carla Fracci, and Alicia Alonso as well remarkable companies such as the American Ballet Theater, the Royal Winnepeg Ballet, Ballet Antonio Gades , the Ballet of the Colont Theater of Buenos Aires, the Ballet Folclórico of Mexico, plus many other highly respected artists and ballet companies of the times.

A wonderful historical building gone thru many periods and still there. One of the sights to see in Havana indeed.

Some webpages on it are hard to find so will give you a couple to enjoy it, you can always look up the tourist board of Cuba in your country.

Infotur on the Gran Teatro

Cuba Travel on the Gran Teatro

For example for France info can be obtain here

Consulat de Cuba en France :
14 rue de Presle 75015 Paris – Tel : 0145383112- Ambassade de Cuba en France :
16 rue de Presle 75015 Paris – Tel : 0145675535- Office de tourisme de Cuba : 
280 bd Raspail 75014 Paris – Tel : 0145389010
Hope it helps. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!
June 7, 2018

Those wonderful castles of Havana!

Ok so we like castles, actually I love them. Just one reason for me to visit a city is if it has a castle. Any shape really a castle on a hill or by a river is just wonderful. My old Havana has plenty and still in good shape. I like to tell you about them a bit.

In the first place the castle of the Real Fuerza was built, the oldest of all. After it were built at the same time the castle of the Morro and the castle of the Punta, to finally add the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. Not to leave out the more inland Castle of  Atares.

After the British took Havana in 1762, besieging the castle of Morro from the hill where today stands the Fortress San Carlos de La Cabaña, the Spaniards realized that they needed to build a new fort that complemented the defenses of the city . When they recovered the villa in 1763, the construction works of the fortress began. It was the most expensive building that financed Spain outside the peninsula, being also today the largest fortress in all of America. With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Che Guevara installed his command center in San Carlos de la Cabaña. At this time numerous deaths by firing squads were also carried out. Today the San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress functions as a historic park, along with the nearby Morro Castle. Also inside is the museum of fortifications and Weapons and the Cultural center of Che Guevara, as well as restaurants and shops. But the most famous attraction is the cannon at 9pm or 21h, recreated by military dressed in 18C uniforms. It is reminiscent of the time when Havana was surrounded by ramparts, whose doors were closed every day at 21h.

Havana

Located at the entrance of the Bay of Havana, next to the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, the castle of the Tres Reyes del Morro was one of the strategic points of the defense of the city during the Spanish occupation. The construction of the castle took place between the years 1589 and 1630, at the same time as the Castillo San Salvador de la Punta, an impregnable fortress up to 1762, when the English troops after a siege of about two months, managed to get the castle of the  Three kings of the Morro and therefore the city.  An irregular polygon that is formed by huge walls of 3 meters of height surrounded by a deep moat. The most emblematic point of the castle is the lighthouse of the Morro, it has illuminated the entrance of the boats to the bay from 1844. With a height of 30 meters, it is the ideal place to enjoy with the panoramic view of the Malecon of Havana, especially at dusk. Nowadays, it is part of the Morro-Cabaña military historical Park, along with the nearby fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, and inside it is the Maritime Museum.

Havana

Located next to the Plaza de Armas, in the heart of Old Havana, the Castle de la Real Fuerza is part of the defensive ensemble that the city had during the colonial era, next to the San Salvador de la Punta Castle and the Morro-Cabaña military historical Park.  The Royal Force was the first to be built in Havana, in fact it is considered the oldest stone fortress in America. The works began in 1558 and were terminated in 1577, although it soon lost its defensive function due to its remoteness from the bay. In 1588 became the residence of the Governor of Havana, later it worked as a national archive, army barracks or National Library. Today the castle of the Royal Force houses the Museum of the Royal Force and in its impressive moat the most important maritime museum in Cuba. The most striking element of the ensemble is the tower that houses the Giraldilla, it was added in 1634. It is a woman-shaped vane that is one of the symbols of the city, besides being the oldest cast bronze sculpture in Cuba. The weather vane that can be seen today on the tower of waiting (Torre de la Espera) is a copy, the original is kept in the museum of the city.

Havana

Located at the entrance of Havana Bay, San Salvador de la Punta Castle formed along with the castle of the three Kings del Morro, the main line of defense of the city during the Spanish occupation. The construction works began in the year 1590, parallel to the works in the nearby Castillo del Morro. Because of this proximity, since 1630 when the cannon of  9pm (21h)  was sounded and the doors of the wall were closed, a heavy copper chain was stretched between the two forts to leave the access to the bay closed. In 1997 a deep renovation was carried out to install in this historic building the Castle Museum. At the moment you can see in the Castillo de la Punta a hall that tells the history of the fortress, as well as an exhibition of ships built on the island and a treasure room with objects that have been found in the marine depths.

Havana

Castle of Atarés, military fortress that integrates the defensive system of Havana built by the Spaniards to protect the city in the 18C. The castle of Santo Domingo de Atarés, began construction in 1763, together with that of the fortress of the Cabañas, due to the need to complete the defense of the villa in its vulnerable points. The Castillo de Santo Domingo de Atarés was the first of these new military buildings to be completed, specifically in 1767. On the Loma de Soto site from where the bay is partially dominated-, an irregular hexagon without bastions, crowned in its vertices by the same hexagonal openings, which corresponds to the forms used for these elements during the 18C. The castle has a large vaulted bomb-proof barracks in its enclosure for all the garrison that can contain cistern, warehouses and all the offices necessary for its defense. It was fitted with 26 cannons and its garrison had about 90 men.  The castle was named in honor of Count Ricla, whose father was the  Earl of Atarés. In addition, in complements this fortress has a covered road filling and a small Central square, surrounded by constructions for lodging, warehouses and other services, in whose roofs were conditioned platforms to establish the artillery, as well as a perimeter trench. Photo credit GUIJE.COM

Havana

The bay of Havana was heavily protected because after some mishaps the Spaniards learned to assembled the fleet with the gold of the Americas here, and then set sail for Spain with all the load and minimize the attack by pirates/corsairs and other powers.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Tourist office of Havana: Havana tourism

Tourist office of Cuba: Cuba Tourism

Hope it helps your curiosity for these castles in Havana of yesteryears. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

 

 

June 6, 2018

Let’s get central, the Capitol of Havana!

One of the most recognisable buildings in Havana and a childhood past time. This is a wonderful building and a must to see while in Havana. I am talking of the Capitol.

I have written before in my blog a bit on it, here it is, The Capitol of Havana

The Capitol of Havana is a building built in 1929 commissioned by the then Cuban President Gerardo Machado. The building would be destined to host the two chambers of Congress or legislative body of the Republic of Cuba.  Inspired by the pantheon of Paris, Saint Peter of Rome and the Capitol of the United States, the building presents a neoclassical columnar facade and a dome that reaches about 92 meters in  height between the streets Prado, Dragones, Industria, and San Jose.

Havana

It is the kilometer zero of the network of Cuban roads, from where all distances are measure from a diamond inside. The materials  needed to built it were about five million bricks, 38000 cubic meters of sand and 40000 of stones, 150,000 bags of cement, three 1500 tons of structural steel and two thousand of dowels, quantities truly impressive at the times.  Among the treasures of the installation is the statue that symbolizes the Republic (Giraldilla), Legend of love, history, art, symbol….. everything enclosed in this little statue, made by the Cuban sculptor Jeronimo Martin Pinzon in the 3rd decade of the 17C , and which today is the third largest sculpture under the roof in the world.

Havana

The Capitol of Havana constitutes one of the most notable symbols of the city, comparable to the Morro Castle, Havana Cathedral and the image of the architectural profile of the Malecón . It is named by some experts as one of the six most important palaces in the world.

Something to see and talk about when visiting Cuba and especially Havana, oh Havana, the Paris of the Americas once and still trying to come back, when do not know.

Check the webpages for updates as it was recently been renovated wholly. It should be worth the wait ,for me do not know.  Here as some outside information to help you.

Cuba Travel: Cuba Travel

Tourism Cuba Tourist office Cuba

Hope it helps come to this beautiful buildng of a wonderful era of my roots. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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