The idea is to show those places that are not within the tourist area but that represent a fundamental part of the Cuban. The most popular areas to visit will be: Chinatown, Queen Avenue, The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, the San Isidro neighborhood and the most significant remains of the Wall of Havana.
Here we show some details about the places you will visit in this tour in Havana:
The Chinatown, located in Centro Habana, is considered one of the oldest Chinese neighborhoods in Latin America. It came to be considered the second most important in the world, after San Francisco in California, United States. Their small grocery stores and restaurants had their origin in the accumulation of money that their owners achieved during their years as hired workers. The first Chinese-owned businesses were opened in 1858.
A little history of Chinatown
At the end of the 19th century, Chinese immigration settled on what was the Zanja Street knife and Dragons Street where, starting in 1874, they set up shops and spaces dedicated to various services, such as shops, restaurants, laundries, etc. The Chinatown was the main settlement of the immigrants of that nation in the Caribbean. In the early twentieth century, some 10,000 Chinese resided in 10 blocks of the neighborhood, and began to open small commercial establishments such as inns, laundries, shoe stores and watch repair shops. Wineries were also opened for the sale of food, such as birds and dried fish, pharmacies, silk shops, shops, restaurants, cinemas and theaters for Asian operatic performances. The Chinatown also had a chamber of commerce that functioned as a stock exchange.
After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, and as a result of the massive exodus of Chinese-Cubans to the United States, the number of pure Chinese fell sharply in the neighborhood and, with them, the popularity of their restaurants. Also in those years began the confiscations and nationalizations made without the consequent compensation. The almost 250,000 Chinese and their descendants who lived in it left the place.
Havana is also the only Chinese mud that has its own cemetery. This is located in Nuevo Vedado, near the Christopher Columbus Necropolis.
In the 1990s, the commercial premises were restored and the Chinese New Year and the anniversaries of the arrival of the first immigrants began. Currently, only a very small portion of Chinatown is inhabited by Cuban Chinese and their descendants.
Legendary street of Havana in Cuba. Ancient and large buildings, of various architectural styles stand out on both sidewalks. The multiple uses of its buildings make it a vital axis in domestic, commercial, cultural, religious, educational and health.
History of Avenida de Reina
When Tacón made the wide and beautiful Avenida de Carlos III, the access to it by Calle San Luis Gonzaga made it dull, due to the fact that it presented some notable unevenness. Between the Campo de Marte (later called Plaza de la Fraternidad) and the Campo de Carmona (Reina and Belascoaín streets), there were about a thousand yards, but with a difference of 9 varas higher than this one, and 12 with the intersection with Campanario that was the lowest point.
To solve this situation the Army Corps of Engineers, with Don Manuel Pastor at the front, decided to make an embankment of some 360 varas in length between Escobar and the midpoint between San Nicolás and Manrique, with bridges to give traffic to the streets Loyalty and Bell tower. The work was carried out with thousands of prisoners sentenced to forced labor.
The embankment left two streets on both sides for the transit of carts and carts, about 8 varas each, with the old level, which placed the existing houses buried under the walls. On this the City Council Procurator raised: “… a beautiful street has been obstructed; the spacious space that used to be two narrow sides, gloomy, damp and unhealthy, has been reduced “.
This was the first of the causes in the “Juicio de Residencia” that followed Tacón at the end of his term, but although he was acquitted, those affected continued their protests and succeeded in 1844 destroying the embankment, beautifying the street and he will be named “De la Reina”.
According to the historian Pezuela, in 1863 it was the most regular and wide of the roads of the Capital, it had 1,140 Castilian rods long (943 meters) by 50 wide (42 meters) and was divided by two rows of trees in three ways, of which the plant had Calzada pavement. On both sides there were residential houses of two and three floors but without the portals of Galiano.
It constituted, from 1735, the main exit of the city towards the outskirts. It crossed the old Field of Mars, today Park of the American Fraternity, to follow its course, prolonged in 1835, when constructing the Military Road or Walk of Tacón, soon Avenue of Carlos III and Salvador Allende.
Showcase of architectural, ancient and modern jewels. It preserves the colonial houses as the one marked with the number 360, relevant for treasuring typological elements of value, especially its stained glass windows, and the dwelling where it died, around 1878, “the illustrious Habanero, patriarch of Cuban letters”, Antonio Bachiller and Morales , thus keeping the memories of the distinguished historian of the nineteenth century and the valuable works of blacksmithing and decorative lights of its facade.
Closer to the first modernity, stand out the examples of Art Nouveau, the old headquarters of the Golden Scepter and the Crusellas House, where the modernist style penetrated the interior, taking over the design of the carpentry and other decorative details that weighed the ornamental richness and the sensuality of its facades.
On the corner of Gervasio, is the church and temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Gothic style and built by the Jesuit fathers between 1914 and 1923. Majestic installation with three naves, huge interior columns and windows in nine and a half meters colors of height, which together with the 77-meter tower topped by a six-meter bronze cross, constitutes a true architectural jewel of the city.
Highlight Art Deco models linked to the theme of housing and other services, such as the Reina Cinema, the Ultra Stores, or the former headquarters of a newspaper and offices, which are ennobled with the presence of this architectural style.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ
The Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Ignatius of Loyola , known locally as Iglesia de Reina, is a majestic Catholic temple, in neo-Gothic style, located in the district of Centro Habana, in the capital of Cuba. It is the tallest church in Cuba and one of the most beautiful, its tower 50 meters high can be seen from several points of the city.
The idea of building a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, was born with the twentieth century in Havana, approximately in 1907 due to the needs of the Jesuit fathers to have a place dedicated to their trades, the area chosen was Reina and Belsacoaín. The idea of a Gothic construction caused fears and opposition due to the usual hurricanes that hit the island. A Jesuit brother of Basque origin, expert in constructions, offered himself for the task, together with the architect Eugenio Dediot.
The first stone was laid on August 7, 1914 and on May 2, 1923 it was consecrated by the bishop, Monsignor Pedro González Estrada, it was inaugurated the next day. The main funders of the work were María del Carmen Zozaya, Narciso Gelats and Francisco del Valle and his wife, wealthy members of Havana society.
In 1954, a restoration was made, with the objective of repairing some damages, however it did not bear fruit, because materials different from those of origin were used. In 1996, a process of capital reparation of the church began, after a long study begun two years earlier, these tasks led to the closing of the Reina street that passes construction, the work of rejuvenation , were carried out by the Office of the Historian of Havana, and by Spanish and French companies.
San Isidro Neighborhood
Dedicated to San Isidro Labrador. Protector of theft sown. This community that preserves its traditions and keeps the memory of its outstanding facts on the ramparts of the Wall. The neighborhood acquires singular importance for the numerous buildings that date from the XVIIth and XVIIIth century. Examples are: the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of La Merced and the Church of San Francisco de Paula and the San Francisco de Paula Hospital.
In some sections of Old Havana you can find pieces of walls. Actually those walls are part of what was once a stonework wall. This would go from La Punta to the Arsenal, with bastions, sentry boxes and doors with drawbridges. Initially two and then up to nine.
Old Havana since its emergence was highly coveted for its geographical location. The potentialities that she treasured for the economic development of the island. The port of Havana, rated as the most important in the country for being the center of port activity.
Thus, it was hit by innumerable attacks of corsairs and pirates that put in danger the life of the peninsulares and the riches of the crown. Then its fortification was essential through military engineering works that allowed to defend the flourishing city. In this way the strengths of La Fuerza, La Punta, El Morro, La Cabaña are built. In addition, the towers of Cojímar, La Chorrera and San Lázaro.
However, the city was still vulnerable so in 1603 there is already a project to create a wall. With it would avoid the access of enemies by land. This part of the land was bare coast, especially the forest. The analysis of the walling revealed that the cost of the work would have an amount of 207,375 ducats. Expected in the beginning to be carried out within a period of three years.
It was going to extend from the neighborhood of Campeche to La Punta. It would be four feet wide and eight feet high. Additionally three feet that would be obtained by means of large bricks. None of this was done when numerous bureaucratic procedures and the lack of funds from Spain intervened.
Therefore, other proposals are proposed. An example was to create the wall but wood and surround the village with water pits. The first is quickly discarded, because it would be easily penetrable with the use of fire. The second would be impractical, as problems with unhealthiness would ensue.
These plans do not bear fruit and are practically forgotten for several years. Then several events occur between Spain, England and Holland. This demanded the attention of the Crown with respect to the protection of its overseas possessions. The king of Spain, in 1667, ordered more fortification for Havana.
These are some of the places that are part of the Habana Por Dentro excursion. An excursion that is worth it! You can book it now!