La Punta & around

Commanding the harbour channel entrance at the northern base of El Prado, at its junction with the Malecón and Avenida del Puerto, is the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta. Initiated in 1589, this castle and its counterpart El Morro across the bay were built to protect the young city by catching enemy ships in crossfire. In 2002 it was impressively restored and opened to visitors.

The breezeswept are around it is wide-open parkland. To the castle’s southeast, the romantically named Parque de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Park) is studded with monuments, including a statue of an Indian couple. Here, too, is the Memorial a los Estudiantes de Medicina, constructed around the remains of a wall used by Spanish colonial firing squads. Another reminder of Havana’s brutal colonial past—the Cárcel de La Habana—stands to the memorial’s southeast. Dominating the park, to the east side, is the massive marble and bronze Monumento a Máximo Gómez. Designed by Italian sculptor Aldo Gamba and unveiled in 1935, this striking monument honours the Dominican commander-in-chief of Cuba’s Liberation Army and a key figure in Cuban independence struggles.

A spiralling road curls around the monument and burrows beneath the harbor tunnel linking metropolitan Havana with the El Morro-La Cabaña castle complex and Habana del Este.