A walk with Cuban flavor: the Callejón de Hamel

A walk with Cuban flavor: the Callejón de Hamel

Heritage & Traditions

By Antonia Di Fiore

Strolling through Old Havana is an experience like no other, both for Cubans and foreign tourists, interested in learning about the culture and typical traditions of the Caribbean island.

Several streets are a must-see in the historic center, including: O’Reilly, Monserrate, Obispo, Jesús María and Leonor Pérez (better known as Paula) just to name a few examples.

But there are also other streets that are not so central and therefore less crowded, which have become key exponents of the capital's identity, such is the case of the Callejón de Hamel, located in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood, in Centro Habana.

This alley is named in honor of Fernando Belleau Hamel, an American citizen of Franco-German origin who owned these lands, and whose work had an important social impact at the beginning of the 20th century.

The history of the Callejón (alley) as it is known today, dates back to the years 1989-1990 when it began to take shape as a social-community project. Back then, the Cuban plastic artist Salvador González Escalona decided to fix all the fronts of the houses in poor condition, at the request of a neighbor in the alley.

The refurbishment consisted in painting the fronts of the houses in the alley with murals, showing motifs and representations that alluded to Afro-Cuban cultural and religious syncretism and that gave the measure of its importance in shaping Cuban nationality.

Nowadays, the alley is very attractive because cultures, religions, artistic practices and the sense of belonging of its inhabitants converge there.

Every Sunday,neighbors show off their traditions. Such is the identity value of this site that during the filming of the eighth part of the “Fast and Furious” saga took place, the setting was chosen to film part of the scenes.