Cuba's rich history has left the country with many national monuments and landmarks, reflecting everything from their Spanish colonial past to the architectural renaissance of the 19th century to the scars and celebrations after the revolution. There are so many things to do when you visit Cuba, but if you are hoping for an experience steeped in history and culture, it is worth checking out these landmarks and monuments.
The Havana Cathedral, or Catedral de la Habana, was built by Jesuits beginning in 1747 and completed 30 years later. The Havana Cathedral offers an impressive example of Baroque architecture from the Spanish colonial days, yet still reflects its Cuban location through the building materials, which includes coral taken directly from the ocean. The Havana Cathedral, and the surrounding Plaza de la Catedral, is a popular tourist spot and local gathering place, offering not just access to the cathedral but also a food and crafts market. The Havana Cathedral is now a Roman Catholic Church.
Havana Cathedral Plaza de la Catedral Havana, Cuba +53 07-861-5293
Located on the coast of Santiago, the Castillo El Morro fortress was built in 1638 to protect the residents from attacks by pirates. Not only is the fortress a massive structure of thick walls and pathways and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also offers great views of the Cuban coastline. El Morro contains a small museum and every night at sunset a ceremony celebrating the revolution takes place on the bridge. El Morro's lighthouse has become particularly famous through photographs. The site allows you to experience a plethora of Cuban history, from the pirate days of Spanish colonialism, through the fort's use in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to its current status as a symbol of revolution.
Castillo El Morro Santiago, Cuba +53 022-69-1569
The Cementario Cristobal Colon, also known as the Colon Cemetery, has become one of Latin America's most famous cemeteries, due both to the detail of the architecture and the sheer amount of tombs contained within. The cemetery was built in 1869 and the stunning "Gate of Peace" which welcomes visitors reflects trends in Spanish architecture at the time. The cemetery's walls and monuments offer whimsical features depicting the afterlife, such as winged hourglasses. The cemetery is the burial ground of many notable Cuban figures including Calixto de Loira, its own architect.
Cementario Cristobal Colon Calle 12 esquina Calle 23 Vedado, Havana, Cuba +53 07 832-1950
Located in Old Havana, the Museum of the Revolution is located in the former Presidential Palace. The building was completed in 1920 and housed the Cuban government until the revolution. It is the site of the March 13, 1957 revolt against President Batista, which ended in the massacre of dozens of university students, and hence an important monument in the history of the revolution. The museum now contains the story of that time and features the Granma Memorial on its grounds, a memorial to the ship that brought Castro and his followers home from exile in Mexico.
Museum of the Revolution Calle Refugio No.1 e Monserrate y Zulueta Havana, Cuba +53 07-862-4092
The Che Guevara Monument is located in the town of Santa Clara. A tribute to Cuba's most famous revolutionary leader, the Che Guevara Monument is located in the Plaza de la Revolucion Ernesto Che Guevara, where thousands of locals and visitors travel every year to pay their respects. The remains of Che Guevera are also kept in a mausoleum at this site. For those wishing to learn more about the man and his life, a Che Guevera Museum has been established to inform the public on revolutionary history.