Habana, a City of Charms
By María Elena Balán Saínz, Photos: Vladimir Molina
The City of Havana is full of magic, carrying numerous songs of dreams to be fulfilled. It features many attractive neighborhoods such as Vedado, Regla, Guanabacoa and Miramar.
The original colonial part of this large city is Habana Vieja or Old Havana. While only about a square mile in area, it has its own distinct architecture, traditions and even culture. It contains abundant squares, ancient small palaces, stately homes, fortresses, museums, and a small portion of a wall that protected it from attacks by corsairs and pirates in past centuries.
A fourteen block section of the Malecon, or seafront drive of the city, constitutes the anteroom to enter Old Havana's historic center, another of the major attractions of the city.
Delightful promenades like El Prado offer a passage of architectural, historical and urban significance; Obispo Street is considered to be one of the most symbolic of the city; and Barrio Chino, or Chinatown, lined with great restaurants, all of which overseen by the Office of the City's Historian.
Undoubtedly that Office, under the management of Doctor Eusebio Leal Spengler, plays a leading role in the renewal and revival of cultural institutions and the improvement of the inhabitants everyday live.
Old Havana is neither a dull museum nor a mere bazaar for vacationers. On the contrary, its essence is it people who provide the friendly neighborhood settings and preserve the grand appearance of this city within a city.