Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Havana and its Fortifications, Cuba


Castillo de la Fuerza, Havana, Cuba
Castillo de la Fuerza, Havana, Cuba
Author: Wilder Mendez (public domain)





Havana, the capital of Cuba, is a sprawling metropolis of 2 million people. Its old centre remains very much intact, with an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical architecture, and a homegeneous ensemble of private houses, with their arcades, balconies, balustrades, wrought-iron gates, and central courtyards.

Old Havana, or Habana Vieja, is the core of the original city. It is encircled with a city wall that forms the modern boundaries of Old Havana. It was founded by the Spanish in 1519 around a natural harbor. Old Havana is the stopping point for Spanish galleons laden with treasures.

There are approximately 3,000 buildings in Old Havana. Old Havana was set on fire by the French pirate Jacques de Sores after he failed to discover any loot in the city. Following the attack, the Spanish built the first fortress there, in 1558.

Old Havana was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 6th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France on 13-17 December, 1982. Among the sights in Old Havana includes the following:

  • The Malecón is an avenue that follows the city wall on the northern shore of Havana.
  • Castillo del Morro is a fortress guarding the entrance into the Bay of Havana
  • La Cabaña is another fortress. It guards the east side of the Bay of Havana
  • Salvador de la Punta is another fortress. It guards the shore opposite Castillo del El Morro
  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza is a fortress near the Plaza de las Armas. It was the first big fortification built in Havana, over the ruins on an even more ancient fortress.
  • Photos of Old Havana and its Fortifications

    Old Havana, Cuba
    Old Havana, Cuba
    Author: Jialiang Gao (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

    Castillo del Morro, Havana, Cuba
    Castillo del Morro, Havana, Cuba
    Author: Michael Toft Schmidt (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

    Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, Havana, Cuba
    Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, Havana, Cuba
    Author: Barack Hussein Obana (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

    World Heritage Site Inscription Details

    Location: N 23 8 W 82 21 Province of Ciudad de la Habana
    Inscription Year: 1982
    Type of Site: Cultural
    Inscription Criteria: IV, V

    Location Map of Old Havana and its Fortifications


    View Old Havana and its Fortifications in a larger map

    Visiting Old Havana and its Fortifications

    The main airport for Havana is the Jose Marti International Airport (HAV). Baggage clearance is very slow and strict, so expect a long wait before you get to enter the country. Getting around in Havana is most convenient by taxi, many of which are old American Chevys. There are also modern tourist taxis using Peugeots, Skodas and even Mercedes.


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