Universidad de La Habana

CA4
General sightseeing
Architectural style: Eclectic
CA Ranking: 4
L entre San Rafael y 27 de Noviembre
  • With Brother Tomás Linares del Castillo as its first rector, the first university in Cuba, the Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Gerónimo de La Habana, was created in 1728. After several reforms, the university became a lay institution, changing its name to Real y Literaria Universidad de La Habana. Scientific studies gained importance during that time, making an impact on students such as Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the Father of the Homeland; historian Antonio Bachiller y Morales; Felipe Poey, founder of the Real Academia de Ciencias Médicas; and economist and lawyer Francisco de Arango y Parreño, as well as on the thinking of the time in general. It was only after Cuba was free from Spain that it became the Universidad de la Habana.

    The construction of the Aula Magna, the main lecture hall designed by architect Emilio Heredia, began in 1906 and was completed in 1911; however, the construction of the different schools and other buildings in what is known as Colina Universitaria (or University Hill), spread out for several decades. Despite its prolonged construction period, it is noteworthy that coherence was maintained, although it was unfortunately affected in the 1960s with the addition of a number of new constructions. These new buildings were non-harmonious or even aggressive towards an environment that had been conceived with neoclassic elegance and monumentality. The dominant feature in the only higher education institution that existed in Cuba at the time was an eclectic historicism, lavish in columns, cornices and other classical elements, which were integrated in a group of buildings that are linked inwards by a central plaza, small squares and green areas. Declared National Monument, this walled complex includes an 88-step outside staircase and a central square. Additionally, it also boasts impressive works of art, such as the sculpture of the Alma Mater by Yugoslavian artist Mario Korbel, the seven murals by Armando Menocal in the Aula Magna and the gabled portico of the Rector’s Office.

    In addition, some of Cuba’s most notable teachers have worked at this university, including Enrique José Varona, Luis de Soto, Vicentina Antuña, Mirta Aguirre and Hortensia Pichardo.

    
  • Convento e Iglesia de la Merced

    Convento e Iglesia de la Merced  LH 5

    Built between 1865 and 1867, this is arguably one of Havana’s most lush churches. The temple stands opposite a small square and its façade, constructed in Baroque style, features the principal door wi …

    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, …

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