Central Park Havana

October 19, 2014 | Print Print |

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Photo Feature by Elio Delgado Valdes
Text: Elvira Pardo Cruz

HAVANA TIMES — One of the busiest places in Havana is Central Park. Seated on one of the stone benches, the unique setting makes us visualize a museum of architecture, surrounded by buildings where the ecliptic and classic style harmoniously dialogue, the Gran Teatro de La Habana, the Inglaterra, Telegraph, Plaza and Central Park hotels and the Manzana de Gomez, the Asturian Center, the Payret Cinema and the Capitolo building are real gems.

The park once hosted the city’s first book fairs and National Comedians event. It now includes scenes of culture, artwork and book sales, photo exhibitions, a tourist transport bus stop and that of horse drawn carts. For decades it’s been the home to the Hot Corner, a space where passionate baseball fans debate aspects of the national sport.

0016Historians say the construction of Central Park dates back to the demolition of the walls of the city (beginning in 1863) and the construction of the Alameda de Isabel II (Paseo del Prado), its name because it was at the center of the two sections of the Alameda.

Surrounded by street lamps, fountains and small sculptures that decorate small interior trails, lush and ancient trees invite the passerby to rest, protected from the sun.

At the center of the park is the monument to José Martí, the first statue erected in his honor, unveiled on February 24, 1905, made in white marble at a cost of 4500 dollars. The work was done by Cuban sculptor José Vilalta Saavedra in his studio in Rome. Appearing in relief, allegorical Liberation Army soldier figures appear with the coat of arms of the Republic. On the pedestal sits the monument’s iconic golden spike, with its history of theft and misfortunes, donated by Juana de Varona, later replaced by a copy.

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The monument is surrounded by twenty-eight royal palms, symbolizing the birth date of Marti, in harmony with the surroundings, eight stones representing the medical students shot on November 27, 1871.

The image of Marti in the center of the park appears to be once again delivering a speech to the Cubans of all times.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery


What's your opinion?

  • bjmack

    Thanks for the great pictures. I hope to be able to see Cuba for myself without
    paying an arm and leg for a “official license via the US government” agency.
    Very sad!

    • emagicmtman

      Just travel to a “gateway city,” bjmack. Depending on where you are in the U.S., this may be Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, or Tiajuana/Mexico City, Cancun, or Nassau. During my last trip, I got a great rate, in the “shoulder season” (Sept./Oct.) for only $430 r/t via a Canadian charter airline.
      Don’t bother with getting a license, just go through a “gateway city” outside the U.S. O.F.A.C. is no longer prosecuting mere tourists for visiting Cuba, and haven’t done so since about 2003 or 2004. It is not worth their while; besides, their budget for such prosecutions have been slashed,and they reserve such prosecutions for reps. of companies trying to evade the embarg. To avoid secondary inspection of your luggage, upon return to a “gateway city,” just mail any Cuban tchotchkes home, rather than taking them with you and running the risk of having them siezed (though for the past three trips I haven’t even bothered, just stored them in my luggage with incriminating labels removed).
      To save $$$, you can book hotels ahead of time via C.T.N. (Cuba Travel Network) or other such sites. I usually mix my stays at *** and ** hoteles with casa particulares (bed and breakfasts). Outside Havana, Cuba can be a bargain. Often my hotel says, including breakfasts, were as inexpensive as $28, $23, and even $18 per night (breakfasts included). Casa stays are even less. Havana is a bit more expensive (though less for me, since I stayed at both an illegal casa and at a ** hotel, one for $15/noc, the other for $28/noc.; both were fine, though both in a distant western suburb where I have friends.
      Where you really save, if you know some Spanish, is by taking public transportation (local buses, jitneys–called makinas or almendrones) and eating at CUP restaurants (those restaurants were most Cubans eat, using local pesos, rather than CUC (convertible–or tourist–peso) restaurants (whose clientel are mostly tourists and wealthy Cubans). Also, I had plenty of street food, sold in $ CUPS rather than $ CUCS. Hope you have a great trip! Since life is short, and you can never be assured of more time, go sooner, rather than later!