History of Architecture in Havana (Part 1)
of Architecture in Havana (page
1 of 2)
the capital city of Cuba, has a special character; different from
many Latin American cities. It did not undergo the building boom
of the 1960's that destroyed so many historic buildings and towns
in the region.
After the Cuban Revolution in1959, priority was placed on other
matters, so the City was not transformed according to Modern trends.
However, due to their advanced age and lack of maintenance, historical
quarters were quite deteriorated.
The historic core of Havana was founded in 1519 at Carenas Bay.
Unlike most Latin American towns where there is a central plaza,
Havana has a peculiar urban structure composed by several main squares,
each one with one dominating public, social or religious function.
Impressive buildings were built on Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas,
Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Catedral.
Probably, the most outstanding among them belong to the 18th century,
like the Baroque Cathedral of Havana and the Governor's Palace on
the Arms Square.
to its function as a port city with a unique geographical
location at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico since the 16th
century, Havana had a relevant role as a trade and communication
enclave between the Old and the New Worlds. For this reason,
the city was constantly attacked by pirates and corsairs,
which represented the various enemies of Spain.
the third decade of the 16th century the Spanish crown had to build
fortresses as a protection from these dangers.
The most impressive ones
are La Fuerza, the oldest one remaining from mid 16th century, inspired
on Italian Renaissance patterns, the 17th century Morro and La Punta
Castles at the harbors´ entrance channel and the 18th century
La Cabaña, more than seven hundred meters long facing this
channel. Additional protection was provided by the stone walls which
surrounded the town.
In the 19th century Old
Havana's most wealthy inhabitants moved to more modern housing or
villas in Vedado and Cerro Districts, where new urban development
comprised larger gardens and public green spaces. Most of the historic
core´ s old palaces were then subdivided into small rooms
for rent in order to lodge the increasingly growing population mainly
workers- of the Old Town.
The demolition of the city
walls began in 1863 and it continued until the early years of the
20th century. The urban space formerly occupied by the walls became
the main focal point of the City.
Inglaterra, Plaza and Telégrafo Hotels, the modern
cigar factories as magnificent examples of industrial architecture,
the impressive headquarters of the Centro Asturiano and the
Centro Gallego both of them representing the economic achievements
of Spanish immigrants, were among the most significant buildings
on this zone.
Gallego in Havana
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