Visit to Old Havana, declared by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity, accompanied by an independent tourist guide, philologist and professor of Literature at the University of Havana.
It is a carefully designed itinerary for you to get to know the most charming places in colonial Havana, mixing walking tour with routes in most typical Cuban urban transports, through the main streets and squares of the historic center, calling at thoughtfully chosen places: from historic buildings to a selection of cafes, art galleries and Cuban design stores not featuring in the more conventional circuits.
The tour includes lunch and a visit to the Morro Cabaña Military Historical Park, to enjoy the most spectacular views of Havana.
If you want to know Havana, we suggest you start with a journey towards its roots, towards its founding history on the banks of a bay full of legends and charm.
For lovers of stories and origins there is no possibility to visit Havana without touring its main colonial buildings. Civil, military and religious, the buildings that survive from past eras show us a city which stands the test of time, and probably makes it the most authentic colonial city in America.
Unlike the rest of the colonial cities of the country, Havana did not follow the pattern that governed the life of the villas around a square or park, but was structured in four main squares, with various functions: military (Plaza de Armas ), commercial (Plaza de San Francisco de Asís), social (Plaza Vieja) and religious (Plaza de La Catedral).
These squares are points that draw the way to go, on a map that overlaps tradition and the most everyday reality. The visit comes together with the discovery of life that hides in the narrow streets that flow into them; some full of music and hustle, others more lonely and mysterious.
The starting point of our tour of colonial Havana is located in one of the main avenues that connects the municipalities of Centro Habana and Old Havana. We talk about Reina Street, and specifically you will start from the neo-Gothic church of Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. You can enter this church, the highest in Havana and take pictures of its interiors, especially its beautiful stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, passages from the life of Ignacio Loyola and some Jesuit saints.
Later, in a fun taxi-bike ride you will go from the church all over Reina Street to the Capitolio de La Habana, the zero point of the city. They will know about the history of this property and can take pictures.
From there you will walk all over the Paseo del Prado, passing through Parque Central, Gran Teatro de La Habana, the Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Telegrafo and the Hotel Parque Central, you will get to the Museum of the Revolution where you can learn about the history of the former Presidential Palace. If you find it interesting, you can enter the museum.
Few meters from the museum is the Plaza de la Loma del Ángel and the Iglesia del Santo Ángel. You will walk there and you will get to know one of the most charming squares of colonial Havana, enjoying a tasty Cuban coffee on the terrace of the Jacqueline Fumero Café. You will enjoy a space where the charm of a colonial city meets the contemporary Cuban design that is exhibited in the aforementioned café.
You will walk towards the Plaza de Armas, where the founding site of the former Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana is located, and where the former center of administrative and military power of the Island in the colonial period lied. Do not miss the opportunity to visit El Templete and perform the ritual that locals do every November 16th, around a ceiba tree!
Once the tour of the square is finished, you will visit the Estudio de arte La Mina, exhibition space for five of the great figures of Cuban art: Zaida Del Rio, Ángel Ramírez, Carlos Guzmán, Ernesto Rancaño, Pedro Pablo Oliva and Roberto Fabelo. The special thing about this place is the way in which the artists themselves have customized their work areas. If they are in the studio, they usually receive the guests and talk about their work.
We will take the opportunity to go up to the Terrace of the Ambos Mundos hotel, to enjoy the best pina colada in the city with a spectacular view of the Bay of Havana.
From there, we will head to Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, dominated by the baroque church and convent of San Francisco de Asís. If we go down the Oficios street we will find a special character for Havanans immortalized in a bronze statue, the Caballero de París, whose life story is a myth. On the way we will go across the Galería Carmen Montilla, as well as Coche Mambí, an elegant presidential train wagon, with only 3 of its kind remaining in the world
With a marked eclecticism, adding an explosion of colors, rhythms and smells, the Plaza Vieja opens itself to the passerby, to later flow onto the Plaza de la Catedral, surrounded by emblematic colonial palaces and dominated by the majestic Catedral de La Habana. You will enjoy the unique contrast between baroque and neoclassical styles of the Cathedral where the remains of Cristóbal Colón were before being transferred to Seville, Spain. A mandatory stop will be the Bodeguita del Medio, bar where the famous American writer Ernst Hemingway enjoyed his mojitos. If you want to see the young artists in the middle of the creative process, discuss their concerns and artistic techniques and buy good Cuban art, be sure to visit the Taller Experimental de Gráfica, located in the Callejón del Chorro.
Next, we will walk to the store Piscolabis, a shop-bazaar where Cuban design items, decorative and utilitarian objects, clothing and accessories, gifts, souvenirs, pieces of art and local crafts are exhibited and sold.
After an exquisite meal, nothing better than a ride in a horse-drawn buggy from Plaza de Catedral. It will take you to the Regla ferry. In the carriage, you will take a ride to the past along the promenade from the Plaza de la Catedral to the Alameda de Paula. Once there, you can walk the entire Paseo de la Alameda, recently restored, its church of Paula, to finally cross the bay of Habana on the ferry to the seaside town of Regla.
In Regla, you will visit the famous Santuario de la Virgen de Regla. Right next to the church, you will see the monument dedicated to the Abakuá Secret Society. You will receive a brief explanation of Afro-Cuban practices from a babalawo, figure of maximum authority within the Afro-Cuban religion called Santeria.
To finish the tour, we will cross the tunnel by car to visit one of the city's icons, the Cristo de La Habana, in the Morro-Cabaña Military Historical Park, where we will know the history behind this monumental sculpture, from which we will enjoy an incredible sunset with the best panoramic views of the city.
During the tour, do not miss to visit:
Feria de publicaciones y curiosidades: for lovers of antique objects and collectors, this is the ideal place; You will have the chance to get some very old editions or rare books , cameras, coins, posters, watches, acetate musical records, etc.
Piscolabis shop: a shop-bazaar where Cuban design items, decorative and utilitarian objects, clothing and accessories, gifts, souvenirs, pieces of art and local crafts are exhibited and sold.
Terrace from the hotel Ambos Mundos, to enjoy the best pina colada in the city with a spectacular view of the Bay of Havana.
Perfumería Habana 1791, where artisan techniques are still used to prepare perfumes and fragrances are customized.
For lunch, we will stop at a "paladar" in the historic center, where you can taste excellent traditional Cuban fusion food.
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