6 Oct 2008
Havana, the capital of Cuba, was founded by Spanish explorers in 1515 and is currently home to more than two million people. Architecture in Old Havana and neighbouring Central Havana consists primarily of buildings in baroque or neo-classical styles with a little art nouveau, art deco, and modernism thrown into the mix.
The revolution in 1959 by Fidel Castro and the subsequent American embargo of the island froze development in Havana which preserved its buildings but also froze repair of those buildings and they began to fall apart. Old Havana became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and restoration of the area began soon after. Although many buildings have now been restored and preserved, many more in are still in a state of disrepair and are in danger of falling down. It is common see the locals crossing the street to avoid walking under some of the more perilous balconies. The buildings in Central Havana are particularly vulnerable. A building falls in Central Havana every few days.
But among all of this misery is beauty. The buildings have taken on a wonderful patina and seem to glow under the warm Caribbean sun. I spent a week in Havana in January 2008 and was utterly charmed. The city is a photographer's delight.