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Cuban architecture is a mosaic of styles from different periods and regions, from military fortresses and Catholic churches dating back to Spanish colonial times and sumptuous hotels and casinos built by the American mafia in the 1950s, to prefab frame-and-panel apartment blocks built for the working class during the Cold War. Alongside some of the most beautiful buildings in Havana, you will find an array of constructions that stand out for their history, aesthetics, or significance.
Built between the 16th and 17th centuries to protect the city from the attacks of French corsairs and pirates, Morro Castle is strategically located at the entrance of Havana Bay. It is better known for its lighthouse, installed in 1895, which has become one of the foremost symbols of the city of Havana.
Castillo del Morro, Via Monumental, Havana, Cuba +53 78619727
Built as part of a project to improve Havana’s protection from foreign attacks after the city was returned to Spain by the British in 1763, this impressive building is the third-biggest colonial fortress in the Americas. A daily ceremony is held at the fortress, reenacting the traditional cannon shot that announced the closure of the city gates at 9 p.m.
The oldest stone fort in the Americas, La Fuerza Castle was built too far inside the Havana Bay, a mistake that undermined its capacity to provide protection against attacks. Crowning its tower, there’s a replica of La Giraldilla, a weathervane in the form of a woman that has become a symbol of Havana. It is a tribute to the widow of a former Havana governor, who kept waiting in vain for the return of her husband from an expedition to Florida, where he had perished.
Built in 1930 overlooking the Malecon, this hotel has had a long list of illustrious guests, from heads of state to famous actors, including Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and Marlene Dietrich. Its Cabaret Parisien offers Cuban music and dance shows, and there are many other nightclubs within walking distance of the hotel. It is also one of the main venues of the Latin American Film Festival, one of the most important in the region, held every December with the participation of renowned filmmakers from all over the world.