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Restoration of the Capitol building in Old Havana, the future seat of Cuban government

Restoration of the Capitol building in Old Havana, the future seat of Cuban government

In recent years many historical buildings in Old Havana have experienced refurbishment orchestrated by Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, the city historian. The “Capitol’s facelift” is one of the biggest regeneration projects in Old Havana.

Cuban Capitol

“Cuba still ageing…” is a common phrase in blogs and social websites nowadays; however they usually don’t mention the refurbishments projects taking place in Havana. Even when these works are far from taking back the “youth of the city”, visitors’ perception of Havana could be slightly changing.


A skilled and hardworking team of restorers, architects and engineers under Eusebio Leal’s management have been renovating some of the oldest structures and buildings of Old Havana in the past few years. Their largest project so far is the renewal of “El Capitolio”, once the seat of the former Congress.

"El Capitolio"

Havana's Capitol

It was originally constructed between 1926 and 1929 and designed by Cuban architects Raul Otero and Eugenio Rayneri Piedra. Sources published in Cuba credit design influences for the dome to the Pantheon in Paris and to Rome’s St. Peter’s for size and form. Although the building’s appearance is similar, but slightly smaller, than the U.S. Capitol, the top of the Cuban dome is a bit higher with a size of 681 by 300 feet. Completed in 1929, it was the tallest building in Havana until the 1950s and houses the world's third largest indoor statue.

Sixty different types of marble for flooring, walls and steps were sourced from Italy and Germany, plus some Cuban marble. The Capitol houses three large bronze statues by Italian sculptor Angelo Zanelli of Brescia. The entry is safeguard by the statues “Work” and “Guardian Virtue.” The “Statue of the Republic”, inside the building, was shipped from Italy in three pieces; it is covered with 22 carat gold leaf and weighs 49 tons. The “Republic”, a stylized figure inspired by the legend of Athena, was realized with the help of Cuban model Lily Valty. It was the second largest indoor statue in the world at the time after the Great Buddha in Nara, Japan; today it’s the third largest. 

The “Statue of the Republic”

Statue of The Republic

The building was abandoned as a symbol of authority after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959. While the government offices have been located at Revolution Plaza across town since 1960, the Capitol remained open to tourists and also lodges a science library. Renovation should be completed by 2017, when the building will be again the seat of government.

Future seat of Cuban government

The Capitol is one of the distinguished symbols of the city, a sacred place for local people and an essential visit if you want to learn a bit more about Cuban history; plus will be soon the seat of Cuban government, another reason for not to miss this majestic place!!!

Iberostar Playa Pilar: New Premium Gold Hotel in Cuba

Iberostar Playa Pilar: New Premium Gold Hotel in Cuba

During the International Tourism Trade Fair in Argentina (FIT) in September 2015, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts announced details about their hotels in Cuba. The opening of the luxurious Iberostar Playa Pilar in Cayo Guillermo this November was one of the most revealing news of the event.


FIT is the most long awaited business meeting by operators of worldwide tourism in Latin America. This year Buenos Aires opened its doors to more than 1600 exhibitors from 35 countries in the final days of September. All the staff and the exhibitors were pursuing a single goal: the unstoppable expansion of the tourism industry throughout the world.


Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, one of the leading hotel chains in Spain and America wouldn’t miss this important event. As part of their latest news, the hotel brand announced the opening this year of their new hotel Iberostar Playa Pilar: a 5 star hotel of their Premium Gold category. Located on the gorgeous sands of Playa Pilar, this brand new haven promises to be one of the most luxurious hotels in Cayo Guillermo, a cay on the northern coast of Cuba, part of Ciego de Avila central province approximately 300 miles from Havana.

Iberostar Playa Pilar

Iberostar Playa Pilar Entrance

The beachfront Iberostar Playa Pilar, with 482 rooms, will operate on an All Inclusive basis and will open in early November. Guests, of all ages, will enjoy every first-class facility and amenity, from a children’s miniclub to a selection of theme restaurants, i.e. Mediterranean, Japanese and Creolian; a buffet restaurant and a grill restaurant on the beach, bars (including a Cigar Bar), three free-form swimming pool, a water park, a night club, theatre, marina, sports club, spa, a wedding gazebo and much more.

Iberostar Playa Pilar

Iberostar Playa Pilar wasn’t the only new of the day related to the Caribbean island hotels. Sources within the organization report some news related to upgrading works in the Cuban hotels. The luxurious hotel brand is revitalising Spa amenities in Iberostar Varadero and Iberostar Playa Alameda. As part the improvement projects currently, the main pool of Iberostar Laguna Azul (also located in Varadero peninsula), is being renovated.

Iberostar Hotels & Resorts is a hotel chain based in Spain, specializing in 4 and 5 star hotels. It is owned by Grupo Iberostar, which also owns Iberostate Golf, Villas & Condos and Iberoservice. The company’s trademark is “first line” hotels (meaning directly on the beach), surrounded by gardens.They are one of the major hotel brands operating in Cuba, and under their management are included many of the top hotels in the island: Parque Central (in Old Havana), Iberostar Ensenachos (located in Cayo Ensenachos), Grand Hotel Trinidad (the best hotel in this beautiful city of Central Cuba) and of course many of the greatest resorts in Varadero such as Iberostar Varadero or Iberostar Tainos. San Cristobal UK has contracts with every Iberostar’s hotel in Cuba, for more information please go to the main page of our website and look closer to any of these hotels and resorts. 

Unique opportunity

I believe the new Iberostar Playa Pilar hotel it's a paradise for those willing for a relaxing break on a luxurious place, plus a unique opportunity to breath Cuban most refine sea breeze while enjoying spectacular views.

Fashion Week 2016 in Havana

Fashion Week 2016 in Havana

Fashion is rapidly arriving in Cuba. A couple of weeks ago Karl Lagerfield announced Chanel will be presenting its Cruise 2017 collection in Havana, just a few days after the French House decided to make this their first presentation in Latin America, sources inside the island started giving details related to a Fashion Week in mid-May.

“Cuba is getting trendy”, this is no longer a dream for local people

Cuba is getting trendy

Havana is welcoming more and more curious visitors every day; hotels are fully booked, even availability in private houses is difficult to manage. From Beyoncé, Rihanna or Mick Jagger, everyone seems to wish being around the island and enjoy Cuban people. Exclusive fashion houses won’t miss this opportunity either.

Since 2000 Mr. Lagerfeld has selected exotic places to present the Chanel Cruise collections i.e. Dubai, Seoul and Singapore. This year, the headmaster of the Coco’s house announced that Havana is the chosen city, the next location for its presentation on May 3, 2016 and also the main inspiration of the new collection, making Cuba the first Latin-American country receiving Chanel in the catwalk. Havana has been expecting this moment since forever. Young ladies on the streets, local models and designers can’t stop talking about it. Plus Chanel just made the perfect excuse for fashion lovers all around the world to travel to the tropics and get into the deeper Cuba to "live it up".

Havana is not only hosting Chanel’s presentation. May is a special month in Cuba when lots of events are running in celebration of Mother’s Day and the next year will also bring a full week of fashion. Habaguanex, the exclusively hotel brand of Old Havana, is currently arranging this event. The Fashion Week 2016 in Havana will be the first of its kind in Cuba. Even when it’s just becoming a real event and preparations barely starts, a full schedule can be already assured.

The venue for the opening event will be “Cerveceria del Puerto de la Habana”, a recently opened establishment by Habaguanex

Cerveceria del Puerto de la Habana

It has a unique location, just next to Havana Bay, where you can smell the sea and hear seagulls during your stay. It’s the ideal place to have an ice cold homemade beer and an attractive option in the centre of Port Avenue. It can host more than 450 people and with a young and modern atmosphere is part of the refurbishment projects lead by Eusebio Leal, the Historian of the city. The famous Cuban song writer Kelvis Ochoa and the local band Interactivo will be giving a unique presentation at the opening event in recognition of a special week. 

The general concept is to show local fashion tendencies, but not only on clothes or high heels, the main purpose is to “melt” artistic movement with fashion designers in the heart of Havana. It’ll be the perfect occasion to show latest works of young Cuban designers while the hosting company will prepare an exclusive fashion parade mixed with artistic lines. The main goal is to feel the fashion’s spirit throughout the whole week.

Cathedral of Havana

Havana Cathedral

The closing ceremony will take place at the Cathedral...a mystic place for such an unforgettable event.

New Habaguanex Hotels in Old Havana

New Habaguanex Hotels in Old Havana: Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso, Cueto, Real Aduana and Catedral

Habaguanex, one of the main hotel brands in Havana, has four new hotels under construction: Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso, Cueto, Real Aduana and Catedral. All of them promise to be marvellous places to rest during a visit to the city, adding 140 rooms in Old Havana.

New Habaguanex Hotels in Old Havana: Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso, Cueto, Real Aduana and Catedral

Havana, as a whole, has been facing several changes since the beginning of the year. Not only more U.S. citizens are having cocktails in every colonial square of Old Havana, tourist visitors had increased  18% during the year compared with 2014. The city must get ready to bring accommodation for more oncoming guests.

Habaguanex, specializes in boutique colonial hotels, is certainly aware and won't drop behind. They are currently working on the opening of new luxurious hotels in Old Havana, a unique place not only in the capital city, but in the whole country. It reminds us the old times of the Spanish colony, and can take you to the past in just a few minutes of conscious walking through some of oldest streets of the Americas.

As usual, at Habaguanex hotels, they'll bring top accommodation in unparalleled rooms, where history and comfort are mixed as one. Bars and refined restaurants will certainly satisfy even the more demanding palate, and accompanied with a special Mojito, would make it almost impossible not to enjoy this unique experience.

Even when the hotel brand hasn't published much information about these new hotels, San Cristobal UK is more than pleased to share the projected images with our clients.

Hotel Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso

Hotel Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso

Marques de Cardenas y Monte Hermoso, a luxurious 5 star plus hotel will be situated at Oficios 110 (close to San Cristobal UK's offices) next to San Francisco Square, one of the main squares of the Old Havana. The location is just spectacular; you will be just 5 minutes' walk from the sea and the cruise terminal, with an incredible view to Havana Bay and El Morro fortress.

In the preliminary design it has 21 rooms, including a Colonial Suite plus a Presidential Room, a Lobby Bar, an interior courtyard and art galleries.

Hotel Cueto

Hotel Cueto

Hotel Cueto, originally constructed in 1906, is probably the best example of Art Nouveau in Havana. This hotel may be reminiscent buildings designed by Gaudi in Barcelona. It is located in the southeast corner of Plaza Vieja (Old Square), a privileged place in Old Havana, at the junction of Muralla and Inquisidor Streets, Plaza Vieja.

Hotel Real Aduana

Hotel Real Aduana

The third hotel is Real Aduana, which will be, without discussion, one of the best places to stay in the city. Located at Oficios Street, between Amargura and Teniente Rey Streets, it is near San Francisco Square and the Rum Museum. It promises a luxurious experience nearby the Bay and a few yards from the main squares in the city.

Hotel Catedral

Hotel Catedral

Hotel Catedral, the latest of the new top accommodation hotels being built by Habaguanex, looks like a "must go" place in the town, situated at Empedrado Street in the Cathedral Square. These images reveal a golden gem just in the heart of Old Havana. Stylish rooms, unique location and incredible views will certainly make it one of the most refined places in Havana.

Exciting new hotels coming to Havana

I'm excited to know that Habaguanex Hotels is planning on opening these really well located hotels soon in Havana.....