Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum. The National Capitol Building is an iconic 1920s landmark. Also in Old Havana is the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, whose buildings reflect the city’s vibrant architectural mix.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are there. Waves crashing against a mildewed sea wall; a young couple cavorting in a dark, dilapidated alley; guitars and voices harmonizing over a syncopated drum rhythm; sunlight slanting across rotten peeling paintwork; a handsome youth in a guayabera shirt leaning against a Lada; the smell of diesel fumes and cheap after-shave; tourists with Hemingway beards; Che Guevara on a billboard, a banknote, a key-ring, a t-shirt…
No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful. How it does it, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history, the survivalist spirit, or the indefatigable salsa energy that ricochets off walls and emanates most emphatically from the people. Don’t come here looking for answers. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare yourself for a long, slow seduction.
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Like so many towns on the Adriatic, Monopoli's history has been thoroughly influenced by its east-facing position and its fortified sea-front walls and castle tell many a story.
Parking in or around Piazza XX Settembre, location of a colourful street market, head east towards the cathedral. To find it just look upwards and you are sure to see its elegantly conceived bell tower thrusting into the sky. Built in 1693, the tower is over 60 metres high, completely dominating the town below.