Casa de Africa, Habana Vieja
African influence in Cuban culture is enormous. This little museum illuminates the Afro-Cuban heritage with exhibits on slavery in Cuba, Santeria (the Cuban religion based on African, Catholic and indigenous traditions), art, music, dance and everyday life. There’s also a nice collection of modern African art from all over the continent.
Convento de Belen, Habana Vieja
This is a community center primarily for seniors and disabled children run by nuns. It’s a beautiful place, full of love and caring. Visitors are welcome. If you’re planning to leave donations in Cuba, this is a place to do so. They’re clearly making a difference in the lives of many people.
Callejon de Hamel, Centro Habana
A narrow, 2-block alley, completely swallowed by wild, brilliant Afro-Cuban murals, sculpture, music and dance. It’s a trip. Sunday afternoons are especially frenetic, with Rumba in the streets. It’s become quite touristy and overrun with peddlers but it’s fundamentally authentic, created for and by the local people.
Museum of Fine Arts, Centro Habana
This national museum shows large collections of Cuban and international art in two palatial buildings. In the Palacio de Bellas Artes, see Cuban paintings and sculpture from 16th-century to the present. The nearby Palacio Centro Asturiano houses works from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States, as well as the largest collection of ancient art in Latin America, including Roman, Greek and Egyptian.
Cementerio Cristobal Colon, Vedado
No kidding! If I had to pick one thing to do in Havana, it would be an agonizing decision, but this spectacular cemetery would be a strong contender. It’s vast, with over a million graves, so a guide is recommended. It’s really an open-air museum of art and history. The monuments and mausoleums are beautiful and moving and they come with some really good stories.
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