Construction of Havana’s iconic Malecón began in 1901. This famous five-mile long promenade and sea wall was built primarily to protect Havana from the crashing waves and weathering from the sea. The Malecón is one of the most popular places to be in Havana and it is a wonderful place to take a walk or run, catch the sunset or hang out with friends and family. Sadly, like most of Cuba the Malecón is showing her age. The sea walls are rapidly deteriorating and decaying with big chunks falling into the water and other parts turning a brownish-green. Yet the promenade itself remains in good condition. On hot summer nights the Malecón becomes a lively “living room” for Cubans as they all head outside to escape the heat and their tight living arrangements. Live music is played, couples walk arm and arm and teenagers swarm in groups. Meanwhile, retro 1950s American cars cruise along the Malecón enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze. It is the place to see and be seen as the sea crashes against the shore.
Here are some pictures of the seaside of the Malecón.
Two forts were built by the Spanish as reinforcements and a defense system against pirates and other enemies entering the Havana Bay. The Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro (pictured above and built in 1589) was built along the eastern side and the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta (pictured below and erected between 1590 and 1630) was built along the western side. Both forts were designed by Italian-born Juan Bautista Antonelli and were strategically located at the point where the bay meets the Straits of Florida.
Early in the morning fisherman gather along the Malecón. I found their brightly hued boats lovely and enjoyed the reflections that the colors made onto the water.
Yet still the same it is a beautiful place to walk, run or hangout with friends.
This post completes my series on the Malecón. I still have so much more to cover on Cuba. A few fascinating topics that are coming up include the Cuban Economy, the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the “Special Period” in Cuba, Cuba’s Literacy push and more. Stay tuned…