Since it’s founding in 1515, Havana has been one of the most important cities in Latin America, and a popular location for Cuban holidays. Dubbed the “Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies” by Spain’s King Phillip II, this city shows off its colorful history everywhere you look. Properly called Ciudad de la Habana, or simply la Habana, the city is home to 2.4 million residents, making it the largest in both Cuba and the Caribbean. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the city:
- Citing the grand architecture that characterizes much of the city, Havana’s official nickname is “Ciudad de las Columnas,” or City of Columns.
- Havana is home to a street cobbled with wood. It runs right next to the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. As the story goes, the wife of one of the capitanes was afraid that horses walking on stone cobbles outside her window would keep her awake, so she had the lane paved with wood.
- Cuba’s capital is known for its many statues, some of which might be unexpected. In the center of John Lennon Park is a bronze likeness of, yes, John Lennon. It was unveiled in 2000 after Fidel Castro declared the former Beatle to be a “true revolutionary.”
- Monopoly, the Parker Brothers’ game of financial domination, is banned in all of Cuba.
- With his strong ties to Havana, it is no surprise that there is a museum for Ernest Hemingway in the city. In fact, the museum is his house of many years, and outside of it is his fishing boat, Pilar. The strangest sight in the entire museum lies close to the boat: four tombstones marking the graves of the writer’s dogs, with countless smaller mounds for the more than 60 cats he kept while in residence.
- In 1848, Havana became the third city in the world to receive gas lighting.
- With countless museums, Havana is home to pieces of history from all over the world. One of the more surprising is the Museo Napoliónico, a museum of Napoleonic art and artefacts that includes one of Napoleon’s teeth and the general’s death mask. The museum is made up of more than 7000 pieces of the personal collection of Julio Lobo, which was purchased by the government when he left the country in 1959.
Guest post supplied by Floridita Travel- specialists in providing luxury Cuba hotel accommodation and Cuban tours.