Cuba—and especially Havana—is a treasure trove of architectural styles spanning six centuries. With buildings dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries, Havana is one of the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas.
Most of the architectural styles imported from Europe—including Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Neo-gothic, the Moorish mudejar, even Art Deco—are well represented in Havana and other cities in Cuba in ecclesiastical and civic buildings and large private villas.
Similarly, the Spanish emphasis on urban planning as a complement to colonization can be seen in the precise urban grids and the numerous military fortifications throughout the country. Yet, there are distinctly Cuban elements that developed which are expressed in terms of colors, textures, details, materials, lighting, and in the spatial arrangements that address the tropical climate.
By the late 19th century, Cuba was educating its own architects and engineers in established university programs and architecture schools, and by the end of World War I, specialized design journals published on the island played the important role of disseminating ideas and providing a forum for the discourse of architectural ideologies from Europe and the United States. Due to a number of converging circumstances, the four decades between 1925 and 1965 saw an unprecedented richness and variety in Cuban modern architecture, not to mention a drastic alteration of the Havana skyline.
While the regime, since 1959, has mostly promoted utilitarian architecture based upon the former Soviet model, Cuba today affords a rich variety of architectural and urban planning examples.
Here is a look at the intinerary highlights:
- Guided tour of old town Havana lead by staff from the office of the City Historian. Highlights include the Plaza de Armas, Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, Palacio del Segundo Cabo, and the Catedral de San Cristobal de La Habana.
- Eclectic Havana tour, visiting the Neoclassical banks of Cuba’s Wall Street led by Architect Maria Elena Martin.
- Art Deco tour, visiting the Bacardi building and Havana’s majestic Theatres.
- Lectures on Cuban architecture by Architect Victor Marin, vice director of the Cuban National Center for Conservation, Restoration and Museum Studies.
- Guided visit to the famous Cuban Art Schools by one of its designers Architect Roberto Gottardi.
- Visit to Museum of Decorative Arts and several restored mansions.
- Tours of the Capitolio Nacional and the Gran Teatro.
- Two nights in the provincial towns of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Cienfuegos is a town laid out in the 18th century in the neo-classical style, while Trinidad has its origins in the 16th century and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Tour price including airfare: $4600 per person based on double occupancy, $5050 per person single occupancy. Participants are required to make a $500 fully tax-deductible contribution to the Institute’s Annual Fund—which helps to further the ICAA’s mission of advancing the practice and appreciation of the classical tradition in architecture and the allied arts.