The Cuban capital, the main tourist destination in the Caribbean Island, offers a wide range of options to meet the needs of the most demanding vacationers looking for excellent vacations.
The five-century-old village of San Cristóbal de La Habana is one of the most faithful exponents of Spanish colonial architecture in Cuba and its prominence dates back to the late 16th century.
Called at the time the Fortified City of the West Indies and the Key to the New World, Havana is at present a living museum showing a wide range of architectural styles, as a result of the different stages of the development of the city.
Its fortification system, with the emblematic Castle of the Three Kings of Morro, includes nine large fortresses, which – according to experts – make up the most outstanding defense complex in the Spanish-speaking Americas.
Nearly 140 buildings in Old Havana were built in the 16th and 17th centuries; another 200 were constructed in the 18th century and more than 460 in the 19th century. They create a very attractive combination of architectural styles.
Havana's historic heart, declared Humankind's Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), holds most of the city's museums, churches, cultural centers and buildings from the Spanish colonial period.
Those who like to venture into the winding streets and alleys of Old Havana can stay in a network of small hotels where time seems to have stopped centuries ago and where they can enjoy all amenities of modern tourism.
The nucleus of the Cuban capital exhibits a true collection of castles, fortresses and buildings with high cultural values, which were built around a system of squares, monasteries and temples.
Those open spaces, including the Arms Square, the Cathedral Square, the so-called Old Square and the Saint Francis Square, marked the design of the so-called inner city.
The Arms Square is considered the old city's heart, since the expansion of the then Village of San Cristóbal de La Habana started there.
It is located in the area where the first mass was held, under a big ceiba tree and very close to the coast, on November 16, when the first steps in the development of the current Cuban capital were taken.
Precisely, in front of that tree, replanted by several generations of Havana dwellers, the first square of the village was built. It was named Arms Square in 1584, because it was the place where military exercises were carried out.
El Templete, a small neoclassic construction by the square, was inaugurated in 1828. The building's inner walls show three mural paintings made by French painter Jean Baptiste Vermay.
However, the most outstanding building around the square is the Palace of the Captain Generals, which was constructed between 1776 and 1781 and is considered the most beautiful building from the Spanish colonial period in Cuba.