Walk down the Malecon, towards the harbor. You see the Morro Castle in the distance. At your left, the Atlantic waters of the Gulf Stream hit the stone, overcome the wall, splash both sidewalk and sidewalkers. At your right the colorful facades seem to fatigue, to crumble down at the feet of that enraged sea. You keep walking, also splashed, also fatigued. The sun is more than warm. The sun is an enormous fireball. Humidity is high, as high as the waves that splash concrete and asphalt. Colorful faces around. Some of them fatigued. Some of them enraged. Havana looks like an old lady, a very old lady. Elegant, but faint. In spite of makeup–sometimes too much make-up. A very old lady just about to crumble down. Old Havana. Old Lady Havana. Sweating, melting under the Caribbean sun. Eroded by the Atlantic. The renaissance fortresses, the baroque churches, the neoclassical palaces, exhaust, falling into pieces. The Spanish courtyards, the Italian theaters, the French hostels, fainting. You should have seen them before. Before it became the gray town, the ochre urinary walls. Havana was a treasure. Havana was a princess, an elegant lady. With Doric columns. With Ionic columns. With Corinthian columns. With her caryatids, with her architraves, with her friezes. The Rome of the Caribbean. Paris of the Caribbean. Mudejar, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Rationalism. Battista Antonelli, Nicolas Forestier, Irving Feldman. Styles and names that have shaped the city. That was Havana. That is Havana still, though fainting, though decrepit. An elegant old lady. Always.
Al recorrer la Habana es recurrente encontrarnos edificaciones imbuidas por la impronta arquitectónica estadounidense. Esto se evidencia en construcciones como el Capitolio Nacional, la Terminal de Ferrocarriles de la Habana Vieja, la Aduana del Puerto, el Hotel Nacional, el Hotel Habana-Riviera o el Habana Libre.
Los santiagueros estaremos siempre en deuda con el tiempo y con los hacedores de su historia. Ante tal riqueza heredada, nos vemos obligados a detenernos en la actividad de los arquitectos de la época republicana; cuyos edificios y expresiones urbanísticas hoy coexisten con las manifestaciones de una sempiterna cultura popular tradicional.
Para el arquitecto cubano Julio César Pérez Hernández, La Habana es una metrópolis caribeña con (marcadas) influencias europeas. Una metrópolis que, según Pérez, logró salvarse del sobre desarrollo de la segunda mitad del siglo XX.
Architecture in Cuba is a collective of different styles and time periods. With its capital, Havana, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the architectural diversity is rich ranging from colonial structures to neo-classical, baroque, art deco, art nouveau, and eclectic.