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Classic Cars of Cuba

 

Classic Cars of Cuba world travel photos

El Capitolio the white house in Havanna

El Capitolio, or National Capitol Building in Havana, Cuba, was the organization of government in Cuba until after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and is now home to the Cuban Academy of Sciences. “El Capitolio” has a size of 681 by 300 ft. Its design is compared to that of the United States Capitol, but is not a replica of it;   Completed in 1929, it was the tallest building in Havana until the 1950s and houses the world’s third largest indoor statue.

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Opened in 1930, the eight-floor Hotel Nacional de Cuba was built by two American firms, McKim, Mead and White and Purdy and Henderson Co. Though mostly Art Deco in style, the five-star accommodation also has influences of old California, Hispano-Moorish, neoclassical, and neo-colonial styles.

 

Classic Cars of Cuba world travel photos world travel photos, Cuba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Cars of Cuba world travel photos

Perhaps the strongest reminder of the hardened US-Cuban relationship is the 60,000 retrofitted metal relics clunking around the streets of the stagnant island nation.

Havana’s stunning 1950s-era “coches Americanos” — or “máquinas” —are often referred to as the “Galápagos of the car industry” since they have been meticulously preserved by their owners during the 55-year-long trade embargo.

Branded in Cuba’s surreal time-warp image, these cars provide crucial income for locals while servicing the island’s tourists. Here are a few of the most beautiful vintage cars we saw on our recent trip to Havana.

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In 1955, Cuba was the top importer of North American-manufactured cars, with nearly 125,000 Detroit-made automobiles bustling around the island nation.

That all changed in 1959, when Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries took over the country.

“The Cadillac does not provide jobs for anyone,” Castro said during a speech to the Cuban people in July 1959. “The Cadillac does not increase the wealth of the country. It diminishes it.”

From that moment forward, Castro halted all American car imports and imposed strict laws on Cuban car owners.

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 Havana is beguiling from a distance, especially its old colonial buildings bathed in tropical sunshine. But up close this city is crumbling.

Buildings are crumbling because they’re old. Then there’s the salt spray, humidity, termites, hurricanes and overcrowding. There are many kinds of problems and sometimes altogether,” explains former city architect Mario Coyula.

Seven out of every 10 houses need major repairs, according to official statistics. Some 7% of housing in Havana has formally been declared uninhabitable. The province around the capital needs some 300,000 more properties.

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As for the city’s heritage, beyond the carefully restored “hub” of Old Havana, much of that may already have been lost for good.

 

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Historic, vintage mosaic tile mural, Old Havana

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Havana is a spectacular seaport. Facing the Strait of Florida, the Spanish knew in the 1500s that a fortified city here could control the strait and protect their treasure fleets before they set sail across the Atlantic to return to Spain.

 

 

Classic Cars of Cuba world travel photos Havana

Classic Cars of Cuba world travel photos

To move yourself around Havana is easy, there are several options to do so. You do not need a rental car in Havana. Busses, legal and illegal taxis, horse drawn carriages, bicitaxi, or the cute yellow cocotaxi … name it. They are all waiting for you to drive you around Cuba’s capital Havana

Classic Cars of Cuba World travel photos Cuba

Memorial a José Martí

Center stage in Plaza de la Revolución is this monument, which at 138.5m is Havana’s tallest structure. Fronted by an impressive 17m marble statue of a seated Martí in a pensive Thinker pose, the memorial houses a museum (the definitive word on Martí in Cuba) and a 129m lookout reached via a small CUC$2 lift (broken at last visit) with fantastic city views.

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