Thursday, January 12, 2012

Havana, Cuba ~ the buildings

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

I've just returned from a week long trip to Cuba. It was fantastic and fascinating. I'll be doing a series of posts, highlighting different aspects of my trip. Today, I'm focusing on the buildings of Havana
One of the things I was most fascinated by was the architecture, particularly in Havana Vieja (Old Havana was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1982.). Havana is 500 years old, and the range of buildings is amazing. Unlike most cities, they haven't torn down many of the old building. And, sadly, have been unable to afford to rehabilitate soooo many of the gorgeous old structures. The city looks as it did 100 years ago...
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
The population of Cuba is 11 million, with about 2.5 million living in Havana. The island of Cuba is narrow and 740 miles long.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
The Spanish ruled Cuba from 1519- 1898, when the US briefly took over. With the Cuban revolution of 1904, Cuba was ruled by it's own people. Throughout the years, Cuba has gone through huge economic booms and huge depressions.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
The song lyrics of 'what a beautiful wreck' describe these old buildings...
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
There is an active restoration going on, in Havana, but the money and materials are VERY slim, so it will be a slow process with hundreds and hundreds of buildings to be restored.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
Even though the outside of this building (above) looks beautifully restored, the apartments inside are not. The housing shortage for Cubans is one of their major problems, since soooo many of these structures are uninhabitable. 
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
There are some structures, in some areas that have been restored to their former glory.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
The streets are uniformly clean with street sweepers and residents keeping them tidy. It's the case throughout Cuba.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture

Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
Our group took a walking tour with respected Architect and historian Maria Elena Martin (above).
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
Cuba is a very poor country, even though education and healthcare are provided for free. There are extreme shortages for basic goods, ration cards, and the people are paid ~$24 a month, yet must pay high prices for non rationed goods. The countries income is number 1. tourism  and number 2. remittances (which means money and goods send from their family members who live outside the country)
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
You can find neighborhoods that look like this, but VERY few.
Havana, Cuba ~ architecture
This is the view from the Malecon (the road and 5 mile walk way along the shore.) That's more of Havana in the distance.
Tomorrow, the dance studios and artists we visited. I'm posting for the next week on our trip..through January 20, 2012.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures Jane! What a fabulous experience. Thanks for sharing.

    Did you use an app for your pictures? If so, which one?

    Ciao
    jojo

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  2. Beautiful. Don't you wish there was a way to get funding to restore beautiful old buildings everywhere? They have such great spirit and soul. I love the one with the men playing cards in front of that majestic structure.

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  3. Oh wow what buildings! Now over here theyd be boarded up for fear someone squatted in them or they collapsed and injured anyone! I recall seeing similar old almost spanish style colonial buildings in Belize but on a smaller scale. What a treat to go see Cuba though and I have to admit to liking the way nature is growing up on high amongst the ruins lol
    I forget the name of the city in spain ( pics on my blog somewhere.............) but there theyd managed to keep old frontages and had built fancy hotels abutting structurally right up to and behind them!It was odd to see but so great that they were honouring the city's past in such a way. Had Cuba the finances, what could be done eh!

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  4. What beautiful pictures! The song title seems very apt. One can see the structurally beautiful architecture through the sadness of decay and decline.
    It will be interesting to see what you will do with it in your art.

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  5. Gorgeous architecture! I look forward to seeing how you incorporate what you have seen into your artwork. Have fun!

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  6. Wow, gorgeous! I've always wanted to go to Cuba ... such fascinating history and circumstances. Looking forward to more posts about your trip :)

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  7. Really gorgeous--stunning photo's!! All those fantastic arches and balconies, what a wonderful selection of inspiration from which to choose. I've recently been paying closer attention to various archetechtual delight around me and in neighborhing towns, but nothing I've seen in person compares with the raw beauty of these photo's--thanks for sharing!

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  8. Wow. Fantastic. I'd love to go. Hope you are going to do a post on their way-cool old American cars!!

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  9. Colleen in NH1/12/2012 4:53 PM

    Oh Jane, Cuba has been on my bucket list for ages...I'll be dashing off an email of interest for your class trip....how exciting.......oh yes
    And such gorgeous pictures Thanks you for sharing so much with us!

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  10. Jane, thank you so much for this rare window into Cuba. My husband's aunt and uncles were (American) property owners in Cuba when things became unsafe for Americans there. They had to leave and forfeit their property. It's sad to see how much it has deteriorated, but good news to know that some groups are allowed to visit and come home to tell about their travels. Your photos are great. I look forward to seeing more. Thanks!

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  11. It looks like you had a wonderful trip. One day perhaps I'll get to do some traveling. In the meantime thank you for sharing your experience.

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  12. beautiful pictures! I look forward to tomorrow's post.

    xo

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  13. So very sad and at the same time romantic. You would be very interested in this book!

    http://www.amazon.com/Havana-Before-Castro-Tropical-Playground/dp/1423603672/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1326456980&sr=8-3

    I would love to see photos of cuban cuisine if you have any.

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  14. So fascinating. Can't wait to hear more about it in person. Beautiful photos.
    Barbara

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  15. I loved looking at your photos and hearing about your incredible trip to Cuba. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. How lucky you were to go to Cuba - and your photos and comments gave me a slice of life there - When I was a little girl before Castro took over and Americans could no longer go to Cuba - my Aunt went on vacation - she brought back handmade castanets for me - I still have them! When I lived in Daytona Beach FL - many of my classmates had escaped Cuba on small boats, tires, whatever they could grab to get away with just the clothes on their backs...

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  17. Michelle Mary, the cuisine was mostly rice, black beans and pork or chicken. Husb got some photos and I'll post them. It was tasty, but their music is better! :-)

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