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.

    
  • 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 …

    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 …

    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 …

    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 …

    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 …

    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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