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.

    
  • Plaza de Armas

    Plaza de Armas  LH 5+

    The early city was formally founded in 1519 on the northeast side of what would soon be laid out as Plaza de la Iglesia—named for the simple church that stood here until 1741, when it was destroyed fo …

    Plaza de San Francisco

    Plaza de San Francisco  LH 5+

    Right across Havana harbor, Plaza de San Francisco is one of the first three built in the 16th century. It takes its name from the Franciscan convent built there. The plaza became the site of a market …

    Plaza de la Catedral

    Plaza de la Catedral  LH 5+

    The last of the main squares to be created, this is one of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots. Originally, it was named Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square) because of its muddy terrain, but by the 18th …

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba  LH 5+

    In response to the increasing influx of American tourists in the late 20s (mainly those who were escaping Prohibition, in force in the United States at the time), the construction of a luxury hotel wa …

    Callejón de Hamel

    Callejón de Hamel  LH 5+

    The narrow two-block long alley between Aramburu and Hospital streets in Centro Habana has over the years become a shrine to Afro-Cuban religions through the art created by Salvador González. The buil …

    The Malecón

    The Malecón  LH 5+

    The Malecón, first named Avenida del Golfo, is Cuba’s most famous sea-side avenue. The project was undertaken by Don Francisco de Albear, Cuba’s greatest engineer at the time. Albear came up with a co …

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón  LH 5+

    History & architecture Declared National Monument in 1987, this is the most important cemetery in Cuba and its 57 hectares (10 acres) makes it the largest in America. According to Enrique Martínez …

    Iglesia de Jesús de Miramar

    Iglesia de Jesús de Miramar  LH 5

    Opened in 1953, this is Cuba’s second largest church, which is visible for several blocks due to its vast dome built in Roman-Byzantine style. The Jesús de Miramar church boasts 14 large mural paintin …

    Catedral de La Habana

    Catedral de La Habana  LH 5+

    The entry of the Jesuits in Cuba was formally requested in 1656, and in 1727, a plot was granted for their school and church. Bishop Brother Gerónimo Valdés explained to the King of Spain that Havana’ …

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)  LH 5

    History & architecture Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former pa …

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