Calle 23

CA3
Famous Street
CA Ranking: 3
From the Malecón to Zapata Ave.
  • Calle 23, or 23rd Steet, is a central, busy street in El Vedado district. It begins at the sea and ends in a river, the Almendares. Its first five streets, from Malecón to L Street are known as La Rampa, literally The Ramp, because it is on a slope. It is crossed by important avenues such as Avenida de los Presidentes and Paseo. Restaurants, ministries, movie theaters, mansions, churches, clubs, cigar factories are some of the sights found in this important thoroughfare.

    Calle 23 stretches across Vedado from east to west, a defining artery in terms of character and geography. From the modern-day buzz and ’50s high-rises of La Rampa, Calle 23 soon enters a mixture of low-rise apartment buildings, parks and commercial areas along its central stretch. In a small park at 23 and J, Cervantes fans will find an unusual nude and skinny statue of Don Quixote, made by artist Sergio Ramírez of thin steel rods and bars in 1980, mounted on his rail-thin steed Rocinante. A few blocks further west is a reconstruction project under the City Historian’s Office: the future Casa Ambientada de Arquitectura y Mobiliaria (Calle 23 #664, 835-3398), between D and E, will contain exhibits on period architecture and furniture. The façade and interior show striking examples of elaborate moulded wall reliefs from the 1920’s, when the house was built. The opening is anticipated for November 2006.
    Further west on 23, at the intersection with Calle 12, is Vedado’s second vibrating nerve centre (after 23 and L), with restaurants, cafés, peso shops, art galleries, cinemas and the headquarters of the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Directly across the street from ICAIC is its Centro Cultural Cinematográfico, where there is a small café, art gallery and store (open 9am-5pm daily) that sells posters of Cuban films, videos and DVDs. Or you might want to visit Café Literario (open 9am-9pm daily), half a block to the west just past Calle 12, a charming little peso café that sells coffee and Cuban sweets, and has a modest stand of Spanish-language books (mainly poetry and literature) for clients to read or purchase.
    One block south of 23, on Calle 12, is Zapata, where you’ll find the main entrance to the Cementerio Colón (see below), an extraordinary city of the dead on the southern limits of Vedado. Following Zapata west around the periphery of Colón to Calle 26 is the Cementerio Chino (see below). Following Zapata east to the intersection with Paseo is the often-missed Memorial a Ethel y Julius Rosenberg. Sculpted by Cuban artist José Delarra, it honours the American couple who died in the electric chair in Sing Sing prison, New York, in 1953, after being falsely accused of giving the Russians the secret of the atom bomb. Every year, on 19 June – the day of their execution –Cubans gather here for a modest remembrance ceremony.
    Back on Calle 23, between 14 and 16, is the famous H.Upmann cigar factory (835 1371/2), which relocated here two years ago from Centro Habana. You’ll easily recognise it as it occupies a full block and is painted a soft yellow colour. Visits, including English-speaking guides, must be coordinated beforehand at Hotels Saratoga, Parque Central or Inglaterra, all in Habana Vieja. The quieter western end of 23 is a residential neighbourhood of large individual properties, which extends as far as Río Almendares, the boundary between Vedado and Miramar.

    
  • 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 …

    La Zorra y el Cuervo

    La Zorra y el Cuervo  LH 5

    Probably the most well known venue for jazz in Havana, the ‘Fox & Crow’ offers an intimate environment in this basement venue notably marked by a red English telephone box at its entrance. Top jaz …

    Ivan Chef Justo

    Ivan Chef Justo  LH 5

    There is only one problem with Ivan Chef Justo and that is describing to people how to get there. Actually it is not that complicated, opposite the Museum of the Revolution on the Old Havana side. Con …

    Casa-Estudio de José Fuster

    Casa-Estudio de José Fuster  LH 5+

    José Antonio Rodríguez Fuster is a ceramist, draftsman, painter and printmaker. He has made illustrations for several publications, participated in a number of international symposiums and events, and …

    Basílica Menor y Convento de San Francisco de Asís

    Basílica Menor y Convento de San Francisco de Asís  LH 5+

    History & Architecture Initiated in its present form in 1716, this religious edifice was the most important symbol of the presence of the Franciscan order in Havana. It is a remake of an original, …

    Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

    Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro  LH 5+

    Designed by Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli and built by slaves with rocks extracted from the moats in the last decades of the 16th century, the Morro Castle to defend the town of San Cristob …

    Museo de la Revolución

    Museo de la Revolución  LH 5

    History & architecture In 1909, Governor General Aubert decided to build a new venue for the Provincial Government where the old city wall used to be. The design was by architects Rodolfo Marurí ( …

    Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

    Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas  LH 5+

    This museum opened in 1964 and is housed in the house of José Gómez Mena, a mansion designed by the French architects P. Virad and M. Destugué in 1927. Gómez’s sister, María Luisa Gómez Mena, a wealth …

    El Patio (Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras)

    El Patio (Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras)  LH 5

    Located on the north-west corner of the former Plaza de la Ciénaga, today Plaza de la Catedral, this mansion stands out from its neighbors due to its wide and spacious portal juts out onto the plaza, …

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