One of the most spectacular sites in Havana, is the Capitol. A majestic building that rises in between the streets Prado, Dragones, Industria and San José. It is a building built in 1929 in Havana (Cuba) under the direction of the architect Eugenio Raynieri Piedra, commissioned by the then Cuban president Gerardo Machado. The building would be destined to house and be the seat of the two chambers of Congress or the legislative body of the Republic of Cuba. Inspired by the Pantheon of Paris, San Pedro de Roma and the Capitol of the United States, the building presents a neoclassical columned façade and a dome that reaches 91.73 m in height.
It is the kilometric origin of the Cuban road network, and after the triumph of the Revolution, when the Congress was dissolved, it was transformed into the headquarters of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. Since 2010, it has undergone a process of capital restoration to restore its original functions and to once again be the seat of the Cuban parliament.
Open to the public, it is one of the most visited tourist centers of the city, having become one of the architectural icons of Havana, 3 4 5 and is usually considered the most imposing building in the city.6 It is also named by some experts as one of the six most important palaces worldwide.7
The decorative elements and ambience of the Capitol spaces are a remarkable complement to the building’s architectural solutions. The component elements of the furniture, the lamparería, and the fittings of the carpentry, among others, have their own designs and monograms for this building. The prestigious company Waring & Gilow Ltd. located in London and specialized in decoration and ornamentation both in interiors and exteriors was in charge of executing all the general ambientation of the project, and constitutes one of the most outstanding aspects of its interior design.
In particular, different companies were entrusted with the design and development of elements, such as bronze fittings to The Yale & Towne Mfg. Stanford Co., Connecticut; the Societe Anonime Bague and the Saunier Frisquet de Paris were in charge of the lamparería; the Fratelli Remuzzi houses in Italy and Grasyma in Germany all works in marble, basalt, porphyry, granite and onyx, and the works of blacksmithing and foundry, such as railings, bars, spiral staircases and lanterns of the gardens were executed by the establishment of Mr. Guabeca and Mr. Ucelay whose workshop was located in Luyanó.
In addition to this must be added the incorporation of a large number of artistic works consisting of carvings of sculptural panels and bas-reliefs in stones and marble that are incorporated into the facades of the building and in some interior spaces, made notable national artists among whom are Juan José Sicre, Alberto Sabas and Esteban Betancourt; and international, such as Drouker, Remuzzi, Casaubon, Fidele, Lozano and Struyf, among others.
Something similar happens with the sizes of the great monumental doors that incorporate sets and different scenes, and with the stands, stands and tables with elaborate carpentry and carving works. Also noteworthy is the presence of mural paintings and canvases that decorate many private environments that include works by masters such as Leopoldo Romañach, Armando Menocal, Enrique García Cabrera and Manuel Vega among others. Upholstery, curtains, skylights and stained glass, sculptures, marble and bronze busts were part of all this decorative paraphernalia that corresponded to the taste and the moment in which the building was conceived.
The Capitol of Havana was inaugurated on May 20, 1929 (Independence Day), with a total cost of almost seventeen million pesos, equivalent to the same amount of dollars of the time. Its construction took place in a period of great global economic recession, which would cause the following year the crisis known as the crack of 1929, so the government of Gerardo Machado was accused of remaining oblivious to the social reality that lived the country.
Like any building of these characteristics, its use varied depending on the political and social situation of the country. In the case of the Capitol, when the political organization of Cuba was modified and its use was not required for the purpose for which it was built, it was assigned to other institutions. The Capitol of Havana occupies its place in history as the seat of the Constituent Assembly that in 1940 promulgated the famous Constitution. Later, when the Cuban Revolution of 1959 triumphed, the new revolutionary government transformed it into the headquarters of the Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.
Over the years, the areas most affected by climate agents have been the landscaped areas, which are the most deteriorated of the whole. Its outdoor gardens have suffered some deterioration due to the little state investment in the last decades and because it is a highly trafficked area. The architectural structure, due to its solid and resistant construction, is kept in a good state of conservation, having been subjected in recent years to various restoration processes to preserve its original appearance.
In accordance with the new times, the Capitol building in Havana underwent a renovation process in order to implement its tourist use and meetings, exhibitions, solemn events and activities linked to the dissemination of the historic and architectural heritage of the building are often scheduled. .
The National Capitol of Havana is one of the most notable symbols of the city, comparable to the Castillo del Morro, the Cathedral of Havana and the image of the architectural profile of the Havanan Malecon. It appears named by some experts as one of the six most important palaces worldwide.
As part of the excursions of NosotrosCubaneamos is the visit to the old part of the city. We invite you to read about this magnificent excursion and if you dare, nothing, BOOK! 😉