Written by Abby Luttrell
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What is your image of Havana when you travel to Cuba? An impoverished, run-down capital of Castro's Cuba? Or the glittering hub of gambling and nightclubs famous from the fifties?

Residents of modern-day Havana wouldn't recognize those stereotypes. The modern capital is an elegant, flower-filled city on the coast of a tropical sea. Havana was named part of the "cultural heritage of humanity" by UNESCO in 1982 for having the largest concentration of colonial buildings in Latin America.

You may feel that you are in Rome or Madrid when you view Havana's treasures. The Catedral de San Cristobal has a Baroque facade built in 1748 which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the Americas. The Palacio de los Marqueses de Arcos is an ornate Italianate villa built in the 1700s which houses a famous art gallery.

Havana's History

The Castillo de la Real Fuerza is a 16th century castle, with a moat and ramparts, and is the oldest fort in Havana. The Casa de la Obra Pia is one of the oldest and ornate houses in Habana Vieja (Old Havana), built in the 17th century with an elaborate Baroque doorway that was sculpted in Spain. Your Havana hotel may be near Calle Obispo, a street of preserved Colonial architecture, lined with historic shops and museums.

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