- Museo de la Revolución
- Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
- Plaza de la Catedral
- Plaza Vieja
There are so many places and things to do when visiting Cuba. One can easily fall prey to its many tourist's traps, losing many travelers to its labyrinth of attractions. But whatever your itinerary is, here are some of the important monuments and places to visit in Cuba.
Museo de la Revolución
Founded in 1913 and 1920, this very iconic museum used to be a Presidential Palace. It used to house some of the controversial and well-known Cuban Presidents. Museo de la Revolución is a great architectural beauty on its own. Designed to resemble Tiffany's of New York and the Palace of Versailles, many are attracted to its architectural design and historic exhibits.
On its grand central staircase, a bust of Jose Marti will greet visitors with bullets holes sustained during a failed attack on the palace in March 1957. The attack was an unsuccessful attempt at assassinating the former President Fulgencio Batista. There are other interesting exhibits in the museum like the SAU-100 tank used by Castro during Bay of Pigs battle in 1961, a replica of the 18m yacht that carried Fidel Castro from Mexico to Cuba in December 1956. Other exhibits include vehicles, planes, and rockets associated with different uprising during the course of its political turmoil.
Many would come to Malecón to witness the most sought-after view of the beautiful crimson sunset, the most dramatic of all in Cuba. Its 7 km-long sea drive, Malecón is a popular meeting place for all people – traveling minstrels, poets, painters, young couples, and fishers. Just overlooking boundaries of the US state of Florida, it’s a laid out oceanside boulevard for Havana’s middle-class people in the early 1900s. Malecón has its own unique vibe and electric architectural design both indicating of neoclassicism mixed with whimsical art nouveau.
As a very popular destination for the pleasure-seeking middle-class in Cuba, it expands into a very busy six-lane highway that attracts many vintage cars like Buicks and Chevrolets. Today, Malecón is known as “the world’s longest sofa”, where people come to meet new friends, debate over their political views, and sometimes just to enjoy the full view of a beautiful sunset.
Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro
Sitting atop of 60 meters high at the front of Santiago harbor and about 10 km southwest of the city, Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997. It was initially designed by the famous Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli in 1587. Antonelli was the same engineer who built La Punta and El Morro in Havana. The fort aims to protect Santiago from pirates who ransacked the city in 1554. But the work didn’t start until 1633 because of financial constraints, 17 years after Antonelli died. Today, the fort houses Museo de Piratería and exhibits from the US-Spanish naval battle that took place in 1898. Tourists who climbed the fort are treated with an amazing view of Santiago’s coastline under the majestic shadows of Sierra Maestra. Every day at sunset, tourists can witness the cañonazo ceremony or firing of the cannon at the Fort where guards dress up in Mambises regalia.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Dubbed as the finest art gallery in the whole of Caribbean region, art lovers are recommended to pay a visit to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Its entire collection expands over two campuses where 'Arte Cubano' building displays the most comprehensive Cuban art collection in the world. The other part, 'Arte Universal' is designed to overlook Parque Central, with views as amazing as the art it holds within. The museum houses purely Cuban art which display its collection in chronological order starting on its 3rd floor. Tourists can view the artworks of the famous Cuban artists like Guillermo Collazo, the first great Cuban artists, Raul Martinez, the master of Cuban pop art, Rafael Blanco and his cartoon-like paintings, and Wifredo Lam, with his Picasso-style paintings.
Plaza de la Catedral
Step back in time to see some of the well preserved baroque architecture. Dating from the 1700s, Plaza de la Catedral is one of the most uniform baroque style buildings. The area was originally a swamp but later drained to be used as a naval dockyard. The plaza is known as the grandest mansions ever built in Cuba and houses the Museo del Arte Colonial (Colonial Art Museum). Its popular tourist's destination wherein visitors can stroll its cobbled streets which are lined with many restaurants and cafes.
One of the most visited sites in Cuba, Plaza Vieja is one place encompasses the true Cuban spirit. It’s one exotic place where music is played in almost every corner, and people enjoying twisting their hips as they go by their famous dance –salsa. Initially called as Plaza Nueva or New Square, its main purposes were to be used for military exercises which were laid out back in 1559. However, it was far from its intended purpose, Plaza Vieja now sits on a busy marketplace teeming with restaurants, cafes, and breweries. At nightfall, the place is buzzing with many touristy activities, and different kinds of music filled the air.