La Habana Vieja Walking Tour

We will visit and learn about the city’s colonial and baroque periods of architectural history, and experience the virtual time machine of architectural treasures dating back over five centuries. We will explore UNESCO World Heritage sites (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), learning about conservation, preservation, and sustainability efforts. La Habana Vieja preserves more of its historic colonial legacy than any other city in the Americas. In 1982, UNESCO declared La Habana Vieja a World Heritage Site, a veritable living museum, in which no fewer than 144 buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries are preserved. We will discuss the challenges to historic preservation in Havana, as well as some of the successes and failures of Cuba’s efforts to preserve its architectural history.

We will visit Casa Museo de Africa (“Africa Museum”). The museum is housed in a 17th century mansion. Various artifacts from different African cultures are on display, including carvings, ritual and decorative masks, musical instruments, weapons, tools, textiles, and clothes. On the ground floor is a depiction of Cuba’s Transatlantic Slave Trade Era and the third floor displays a collection of Afro-Cuban religious icons. Participants will learn about the historical and present day influences of African cultures and African religions on the island. During the tour, we will also see and discuss the numerous government and private renovation and construction projects, and learn about the impact on everyday Cubans of the recent increase in tourism and foreign direct investment.