504th Anniversary of Havana, a City of Mythical Attraction

504th Anniversary of Havana, a City of Mythical Attraction
Fecha de publicación: 
16 November 2023
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Havana celebrates its 504th birthday this November 16th in an environment that exalts traditions and promotes an approach to its history, myths, and legends.

Founded by the Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez in 1519, the former Village San Cristóbal de la Habana continues its bustling pace, its busy pace and does not stop its efforts to rebuild buildings damaged by the passage of time, including the entire network of real estate and the patrimonial system.

Such are the purposes of the City Historian Office (CHO), interested in ensuring that each stone of its ancient buildings of eclectic, baroque, neoclassical or other architecture keeps its health as a witness to many historical, social, and cultural events that have been recorded forever and colors the history of its little more than five centuries.

This plan includes the completion of the first stage of restoration of Palacio del Conde de Jaruco, in the Old Plaza of the Historic Center, and the Vitier García-Marruz House, which stands as a cultural center to give continuity to the intellectual work of that important family of Cuban culture.

Other properties undergoing repair are the Casa de los Arabes, as well as the Casa de la Obra Pía Museum. They are all part of the program for the city's birthday and pay tribute to the former City Historian Eusebio Leal, architect of the rescue and conservation that allowed the Historic Center to be declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
It’s worth mentioning  the call of the CHO that urges the need to protect the city's heritage, with the support and participation of citizens to take care of what is rescued with great effort, especially in these difficult and scarce times, and be able to monitor each work, each property on a daily basis and have a clean and well-kept city.

If we want to work to restore values, search for what has disappeared, recover what has been damaged, it’s necessary to create ideal environments to transmit what’s truly authentic, what identifies us as Cubans.

In the context of the celebration, the multipurpose open-air space on Avenida del Puerto will be ready, which will allow vehicle parking and will be a recreation and resting area, given that Havana has had an extraordinary alliance with the sea and the date of its birthday is opportune to highlight those links that contributed to its splendor.

It’s worth remembering that at some point in that history it became the great estuary of the continent and fleets and navies met in its waters. The city was filled with people and the sea was, from then on, its main ally.

Such principles are also linked to the cultural and educational offer planned for the 504th anniversary that includes the Historic Center Aquarium, with a new museographic concept of technological creation that will expose the conjugation between freshwater and marine ecosystems.

As Eusebio Leal expressed: “Havana is a thoughtful city. As if this had been a coincidence of wishes over time. It’s not chaos gathered together, but rather it has the grace of large cities. The grace that Paris has, the Venetian grace, the grace of Madrid, the grace of many cities in the world. It means that Havana has many things.”

And since the Cuban capital is extremely musical, the organizers of the program for its anniversary took interest in celebrating the Classical Havana Festival, from November 17-December 3, in the Minor Basilica of San Francisco de Asís, a season  of concerts and activities that include Dance.

A city and its people are valuable as long as they preserve their elements of identity, which is why the offer of the Oswaldo Guayasamín House will be welcome, where the photographic exhibition Havana and its stories will be inaugurated.

Many are preparing to pay tribute to it, among them the builders who give life to restored buildings like the Fountain of Youth and the conclusion of the complete maintenance of the green areas of the Pan-American Highway, in addition to several actions in the Colón cemetery, while the Directorate of Transportation will reopen the Footbridge of Regla municipality.

Meanwhile, others are working to revitalize traditions and will come on the 15th from afternoon hours to wait for midnight, in the garden of the first neoclassical building in the city, founded on March 19, 1828, in the place where 504 years ago the first mass and the first town hall of the Villa de San Cristóbal in Havana were celebrated.

According to popular belief, going around that sacred tree three times counterclockwise can make any wish come true.

At 504 years since it was founded, it’s still a l place of charm, which holds the title of Wonder City, for its “mythical appeal, the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and the charisma and cheerfulness of its inhabitants,” according to statements by Bernard Weber, president of the New7Wonder Foundation after choosing it among the most renowned cities in the world.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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