Barrio Chino

CA4
Neighborhood
CA Ranking: 4
Centered around Zanja and Dragones
  • Located just a few meters away from El Capitolio, this is the largest and most important Chinatown in the New Continent. According to historian Julio Le Riverend, between 1847 and 1874, around 150,000 Chinese people arrived in Havana, most of them men, and by the early 20th century, there were already approximately 10,000 of them (almost a small town).

    In line with the growth of Cuba’s capital city and with a strategic location for business, Havana’s Chinatown became the venue of variousthriving business establishments, including shops, bodegas with exotic items, shoe shops, fruit stands, small restaurants, laundries, etc. There were also a large number of self-proclaimed leisure and educational clubs, being the Kuomintang and the Chi Kong Tong the most popular ones.

    In the beginning, the Chinese immigrants stayed true to their customs, marrying only to members of their community, but as many started to immigrate to other countries, the ones that did stay began to marry Cubans and Caucasians, and their race has now become a mix of races. Today, most Chinese-Cuban are a mix of their Chinese ancestors with Spanish and African descendants.

    What’s truly peculiar about this neighborhood are the so-called Sociedades Chinas de Instrucción y Recreo, small casino-bar-restaurant establishments. Among them, Sociedad China La Unión de la Familia (Family Union Chinese Society), Lung-Kwn-Sol Chinese Society, Sue-Yuen-Tong (a small restaurant) and Chi-Tack Tong (another small restaurant).

    There are a few other must-see things in this neighborhood, such as the Kwong-Wah-Po (People’s Chinese Newspaper), which is still being published; a Chinese movie theater, where original versions of movies are featured; and an odd Chinese homeopathic pharmacy.

    
  • Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam

    Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam  LH 5+

    The north-west corner of the square is occupied by the 18th-century Casa de los Condes de Peñalver, which has at different times served as a post office, a bank and a school. Today, it houses the Cent …

    Quinta Avenida

    Quinta Avenida  LH 5+

    Initially called Avenida de las Américas, Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) stretches from the tunnel that connects it to Calzada Street, in Vedado, to the Santa Ana River, in the locality of Santa Fe. Co …

    Plaza Vieja

    Plaza Vieja  LH 5+

    The 16th-century Plaza Vieja has always been a residential rather than a military, religious or administrative space, and is surrounded by elegant colonial residences, combined with a few very strikin …

    Paseo del Prado

    Paseo del Prado  LH 5+

    In colonial times, this promenade received several names, including Nuevo Prado, Alameda de Extramuros, Paseo de Isabel II and Paseo del Prado, and with cuba’s independecne, it became Paseo de Martí. …

    Jardín Botánico Nacional

    Jardín Botánico Nacional  LH 5+

    These 600-hectare botanical gardens feature approximately 150,000 examples of 4,000 different species of trees and bushes from all over the world. A tractor train ride around the park departs four tim …

    Almacenes de San José

    Almacenes de San José  LH 5

    This former harborside warehouse was built in 1885 and is considered the oldest depository in Old Havana. The sober and imposing façade that looks out onto the city conceals the building’s steel struc …

    Santa María del Mar

    Santa María del Mar  LH 5

    Santa María is the most popular beach among both Habaneros and visitors. It has lodgings, restaurants, watersports hire, grocery stores and a pharmacy. As with the other beahes, it boasts soft, white …

    Cámara Oscura

    Cámara Oscura  LH 5

    Located on the top floor of the eclectic-style early 20th-century Edificio Gómez Vila—the plaza’s tallest building (35 meters/115 feet)—on the northeast corner, the Cámara Oscura provides a 360-degree …

    Arte Corte (Papito’s)

    Arte Corte (Papito’s)  LH 5+

    Established about eight years ago, Arte Corte is a hairdressing salon that is also an “interactive museum” where the customer, while comfortably seated in a hundred year-old chair awaiting their turn, …

    Jardines de la Tropical

    Jardines de la Tropical  LH 5

    If you attend any of the concerts that are held here in an effort to save this place from the state of semi-neglect it has been plunged into for many years, it would be a good time to appreciate the m …

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