Thirdeyemom

Perspective: A look at Havana’s architectural past

After a recent trip to Cuba, I discovered that Cuban life is all a matter of perspective.  As I mentioned in my last post “A Taste of Cuba“, the country is perhaps one of the most fascinating places I’ve been given its eclectic mix of history, culture and politics. What makes Cuba so incredibly interesting is that almost everything has been magically frozen in time since the Cuban Revolution over half a century ago.

One of the most prevalent examples of this reality can be seen in Cuba’s architecture. Once gorgeous buildings and mansions of a rather decadent era are today in various states of decay as time leaves her mark. Some have been beautifully restored to their previous grandeur while others are slowly but surely being regentrified. For me, it is all a matter of perspective as to whether there still remains beauty in the peeling paint, the crumbling facades and the deteriorating walls of Cuba’s phenomenal past.

Here is an old Spanish Colonial mansion found in Old Havana and typical of the 18th century, in the process of restoration. Let’s take a look and judge for yourself.

Cuban door

The remains of a once glorious past.

staircase cuban architecture

The stairs to the top.

Cuban staircase

Mold growing along the bottom of a once beautiful staircase.

All Spanish Colonial mansions were built around the courtyard which had two key functions. First, it brought in sunlight to the home and second it offered fresh air to circulate throughout the house. Back in the early days, the first floor was where business was conducted and the second floor was where the family lived.

Cuban courtyard Havana

The courtyard where the rich used to spend their days relaxing.

Cuban worker

This young man was taking a break from work.

Cuban villa

The remains of the villa, a place that was once spectacular.

One of the key architectural jewels of the Spanish Colonial mansions was the majestically carved wooded ceilings as seen in the photo below.

Cuban wood ceiling.

The ceiling has been restored. It is a beautiful work of art.

As more money becomes available to the lackluster Cuban economy and more Cubans earn the means to restore their homes, there is hope that the sensational architecture and grandeur of Havana’s past can return. But it will take a lot of time, money and effort to restore her beauty back to the high times of the 1950s when Havana was perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the Southern Hemisphere.

If I close my eyes, I can only imagine what it must have looked like back then. Purely sensational.

Havana

The colors of Havana.

This post was written in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective. To view more entries click here. More to come on Cuba. Stay tuned….

37 comments

  1. It exudes warmth and colour even where there is none, Nicole 🙂 I imagine you could go WILD with a camera there (and probably did 🙂 )

    • Oh Jo, I loved Havana. She is so photogenic! I did indeed take tons of pics…over 1400! I would have done more if I wasn’t with a lot of other people waiting on me!

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  8. Wonderful post and photos, Nicole. I, also, can only imagine Havana in its prime. But there is something about the now that is still absolutely beautiful.

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  11. I love Havana and found the buildings really haunting. So much of it is in need of repair, but still the city is captivating, and the people really lovely!

    • Me too! I just loved Havana. When did you go? I want to go back. I just feel in love with her charm. The people were beautiful, music and culture made me smile, and the dancing!

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    • Me too. Work is being done but there is so much work that needs to be done. The problem is money. The sidewalks in Havana are also completely in ruins which made it dangerous walking at night for fear of breaking a leg!

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