Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja

Out of the five central plazas in Old Havana, one of my favorites for her beauty and elegance is Plaza Vieja or “Old Square”. Built in 1559 as a public square after the construction of the Plaza des Armas and Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja was originally called Plaza Nueva (New Square). Only six years earlier, Havana had been declared the capital of Cuba (being moved from Santiago) and the Spaniards were ready to use their newly found wealth to begin creating colonial Havana. 

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza des Armas

Castro’s Cuba

So far most of my posts on Cuba have been beaming with positivity about how much I fell in love with this fascinating place. The welcoming warm people, the beautiful decaying buildings and old mansions, the sounds of salsa and son, the warm tropical breezes, the fragrant air, the mouth-quenching mojitos and the extraordinary history of this unique island, all have captivated my soul. As a world traveler, for me Cuba offered something different. A forbidden place with a tumultuous past that has been frozen in time.

Old Havana

Peeking into the courtyard of a glorious mansion in Old Havana.

Yet like all places, there is much more to the story and not everything about Cuba is rosy and clear. I briefly touched upon Cuba’s painful past and long fight for freedom in my post “A Look into Cuba’s Tumultous Pastbut I was not quite ready to tackle the controversial and complicated topic of Fidel Castro. Quite frankly, I wanted to complete other posts on all the wonderful things I saw in Cuba: The arts, architecture, music, culture and people.

Vintage American Cars in Havana

A Look into Cuba’s Tumultuous Past

Author’s note: Many readers have asked lots of questions about Cuba and why the US continues to have an embargo after 50 years. America’s relationship with Cuba is a fascinating albeit complicated topic. My goal for this post is to briefly outline the complex history between Cuba and the United States. It is a daunting task and by no means am I an expert. All the information used to write this post was gained from my people-to-people visits, interviews with Cubans, and reading and research on Cuban-American relations.  I feel it is hard to explain Cuba without explaining her long fight for freedom and revolutionary past. – thirdeyemom

Mi amigo in Trinidad

I saw this man in Trinidad and he fit the bill of my image of a true Cuban.

Cuba is a place of perseverance, pride and frustration. In order to get an understanding of how today’s Cuba evolved, it is essential to dig back in time and examine Cuba’s turbulent past and struggle for independence after years of colonial rule.

Like many parts of the world, Cuba had an indigenous population who were living peacefully before Cuba was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492 during Columbus’ first expedition to the Americas.

Voyages of Christopher Columbus

The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus from 1492-1500. Source: WIkipedia Free Commons