El Capitolio

Last updated
El Capitolio
Capitolio Nacional de Cuba
El Capitolio Havana Cuba.jpg
El Capitolio from a rooftop to the southeast
El Capitolio
General information
Town or city Havana
Country Cuba
Coordinates 23°08′07″N82°21′34″W / 23.13528°N 82.35944°W / 23.13528; -82.35944 Coordinates: 23°08′07″N82°21′34″W / 23.13528°N 82.35944°W / 23.13528; -82.35944
Construction started1 April 1926
Completed20 May 1929
Map of Havana, 1850. The land currently occupied by the Capitol, then belonging to the railway station of Villanueva, is framed in red. Opposite the site are the city walls demolished in 1863. Estacion Villanueva La Habana (1850).JPG
Map of Havana, 1850. The land currently occupied by the Capitol, then belonging to the railway station of Villanueva, is framed in red. Opposite the site are the city walls demolished in 1863.

El Capitolio, or the National Capitol Building (Capitolio Nacional de La Habana), is a public edifice in Havana, the capital of Cuba. The building was commissioned by Cuban president Gerardo Machado and built from 1926 to 1929 under the direction of Eugenio Rayneri Piedra. It is located on the Paseo del Prado, Dragones, Industria, and San José streets in the exact center of Havana.



The railway station of Villanueva. Hava, Cuba 1899-1903-estacion-de-villanueva-luego-el-capitolio-calle-dragones-y-prado.jpg
The railway station of Villanueva.
Villanueva Railway. Map shows train path down present day Avenida Zanja. Partial map of Havana showing the Villanueva railway station before the Capitol was built.jpg
Villanueva Railway. Map shows train path down present day Avenida Zanja.

The Havana Capitol building was built on land that was a railroad terminal and used to belong to the Villanueva Railway. The project began on April 1926, during the Gerardo Machado administration. Construction was overseen by the U.S. firm of Purdy and Henderson. Prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Congress was housed in the building, the Congress was abolished and disbanded following the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the building fell into disrepair.[ citation needed ]

"El Capitolio" has a size of 681 by 300 ft. Although its design is often compared to the United States Capitol, it is not a replica. [1] "It is similar to that in Washington D.C, but a meter higher, a meter wider, and a meter longer, as well as much richer in detail.[ citation needed ] To finish its construction they needed more than 5000 workers, 3 years, 3 months and 20 days; as well as approximately 17 million American dollars". [2] Completed in 1929, it was the tallest building in Havana until the 1950s. It houses the world's third largest indoor statue.[ citation needed ]

On August 30, 2019, the historian of the city Eusebio Leal proclaimed the end of the renovation with the unveiling of the dome. [3]


Capitolio floor plan. Havana, Cuba. 2-Entrance Portico, 3-Rotunda, 4-Apse, 5-Salon de Marti, 6-Library, 7-Committee room, 8-Stair of Honor, 9-Patio-garden, 10-Salon (pasos perdidos), 12-Secretary, 14-Senate, 15-Camara, 16-Gallery. Capitolio de Cuba floor plan. Havana, Cuba.jpg
Capitolio floor plan. Havana, Cuba. 2-Entrance Portico, 3-Rotunda, 4-Apse, 5-Salon de Marti, 6-Library, 7-Committee room, 8-Stair of Honor, 9-Patio-garden, 10-Salon (pasos perdidos), 12-Secretary, 14-Senate, 15-Cámara, 16-Gallery.
Image of the construction of the upper dome, taken c. 1928. Havana Capitolio under construction.jpg
Image of the construction of the upper dome, taken c. 1928.

The cupola, which is stone-clad around a steel frame that was constructed in the United States, is set planimetrically forward on the building to allow for the apse that contains La Republica, the "Statue of the Republic". At almost 92 m (302 ft) high, the dome was the highest point in the city of Havana until 1956 when the FOCSA Building was built reaching a height of 121 meters (397 ft). The Capitolio had the third-highest dome in the world at the time of its construction. According to Eugenio Rayneri Piedra, the inspiration for the cupola came from the Panthéon in Paris by way of Bramante's Tempietto in San Pietro in Montorio. [4]

The gardens, based on the designs of European gardens consisting of areas of lawn bordered by paths and highlighted by Royal Palm trees, were designed by French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier who also designed the Paseo del Prado.[ citation needed ]

The 56 steps leading to the main entrance, La Escalinata, is flanked by 6.5 m (21 ft) statues by the Italian artist Angelo Zanelli. To the left is Work (El Trabajo) and to the right The Tutelary Virtue (La Virtud Tutelar). The steps lead up to the central portico, which is 36 m (118 ft) wide and more than 16 m (52+12 ft) tall. There are 12 granite columns in the ionic order arranged in two rows and each over 14 m (46 ft) tall. Beyond the portico, three large bronze doors with bas-reliefs by Zanelli allow access to the main hall.[ citation needed ]

Inner courtyard at the north section of the Havana Capitol (Cuba). At the left, The Rebel Angel, a work by Italian sculptor Salvatore Buemi (1860-1916). Capitolio de La Habana (Cuba) 02.jpg
Inner courtyard at the north section of the Havana Capitol (Cuba). At the left, The Rebel Angel, a work by Italian sculptor Salvatore Buemi (1860–1916).

The inside of the main hall under the cupola is the Statue of the Republic (La Estatua de la República). The statue, also by Zanelli, was cast in bronze in Rome in three pieces and assembled inside the building after its arrival in Cuba. It is covered with 22 carat (92%) gold leaf and weighs 49 tons. At 15 m (49+14 ft) tall, it was the second highest statue under cover in the world at the time, with only the Great Buddha of Nara being taller. The statue stands on a plinth 2.5 m (8+14 ft) high bringing the total height to 17.54 m (57+12 ft). A Creole Cuban, Lily Valty served as the model for the body for Zanelli, and the inspiration for the statue came from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.[ citation needed ]

El Senado Capitol court.jpg
El Senado

Embedded in the floor in the center of the main hall is a replica 25 carat (5 g) diamond, which marks Kilometre Zero for Cuba. The original diamond, said to have belonged to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and have been sold to the Cuban state by a Turkish merchant, was stolen on 25 March 1946 and mysteriously returned to the President, Ramón Grau San Martín, on 2 June 1946. To either side of the main hall is the Salón de Pasos Perdidos (Hall of Lost Steps), named for its acoustic properties. These halls, with inlaid marble floors and gilded lamps, lead to the two semicircular chambers that formerly housed the Parliament and Chamber of Deputies. The Parliament chamber to the right of the building is backed on to by the President's office which has a door opening directly onto the dais.[ citation needed ]

A range of different lamps is seen throughout the building. These were all designed specifically for the building by Cuban designers and the majority of them were manufactured in France.[ citation needed ]

In the center of the building are two patios which provide light and ventilation for the offices on the first (ground), third and fourth floors. The north patio features another statue The Rebellious Angel (El Ángel Rebelde) which was donated to the building after the inauguration. There is a small fifth floor and a sixth-floor which gives access only to part of the cupola.[ citation needed ]

Central portico

A wide granite staircase of 56 steps, 36 meters wide and 16 meters high, leads to the portico of the building. There are two rows of 6 columns of the Ionic order. The pillars stand out with a diameter of 1.55 meters and a height of 14.10 meters. Reasons for the hall, located in all the doors and the lateral panels, are the Boticcino marble squares sculpted by Angelo Zanelli.[ citation needed ]

On both sides of the end of the staircase are two bronze sculptural groups with granite pedestal by the Italian Angelo Zanelli, one male, and the other female, have a height of 6.70 meters and represent the first progress of human activity and the second the tutelary virtue of the people.[ citation needed ]

Statue of the Republic

Located in the apse, the Statue of the Republic is the figure of a young woman standing, dressed in a tunic, with a helmet, shield and lance; it weighs 30 tons, is 14.60 meters high, and rests on a marble pedestal of 2.50 meters. It was sculpted by Angelo Zanelli, author of the Altare della Patria, part of the monument to King Victor Emmanuel II, in Rome. It is the third largest indoor statue in the world, surpassed only by the Buddha of Nara, Japan and the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. D.C.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Havana Capital and largest city of Cuba

Havana is the capital and largest city of Cuba. The heart of the La Habana province, Havana is the country's main port and leading commercial center. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

Cuban infrastructure is significant and includes: massive Spanish fortifications built in principal ports.

Plaza de la Revolución Second Subdivision of Havana in Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba

Plaza de la Revolución, "Revolution Square", is a municipality and a square in Havana, Cuba.

Colon Cemetery, Havana Cemetery in Havana, Cuba

El Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, also called La Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón, was founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, Cuba to replace the Espada Cemetery in the Barrio de San Lázaro. Named for Christopher Columbus, the cemetery is noted for its many elaborately sculpted memorials. It is estimated the cemetery has more than 500 major mausoleums. Before the Espada Cemetery and the Colon Cemetery were built, interments took place in crypts at the various churches throughout Havana, for example, at the Havana Cathedral or Church Crypts in Havana Vieja.

La Mansión

La Mansión de Mark Pollack, is a neo-classical, Florentine mansion in the Cubanacan Section of Havana, Cuba built in 1930 by the Cuban architect, Leonardo Morales y Pedroso (1887–1965). It is located at 21st street #15001, Cubanacan, Havana, Cuba. It was built for Mark Alexander Pollack (1874–1946),the son of Alexander Pollack and Belle A. Rothschild (1848-1936), the American-born patriarch of a wealthy Cuban tobacco exporter. The house covers an area of 13,000 square meters.

Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana Luxury hotel in Havana, Cuba

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is a luxury hotel in Havana, Cuba. It is located in the historic Manzana de Gómez building, an early-20th-century building that was Cuba's first shopping mall. The Kempinski Hotel chain, belongs to the oldest hotel groups in Europe, Kempinski Aktiengesellschaft.

Mearson Daniel Zafra Pérez is a Cuban painter, better known as Zafra

Angelo Zanelli Italian sculptor

Angelo Zanelli (1879–1942) was an Italian sculptor.

Lonja del Comercio building Office in Havana, Cuba

The Lonja del Comercio building in Old Havana, Cuba served as the stock exchange in the capital until the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Today, it is an office building.

Paseo del Prado, Havana Promenade in Havana, Cuba

Paseo del Prado is a street and promenade in Havana, Cuba, near the location of the old city wall, and the division between Centro Habana and Old Havana. Technically, the Paseo del Prado includes the entire length of Paseo Martí approximately from the Malecon to Calle Máximo Gómez, the Fuente de la India fountain. The promenade has had several names; it was renamed Paseo de Martí in 1898 with the island's independence from Spain. Despite the historic references, the people of Havana simply call it "El Prado".

<i>Fuente de la India</i>

Fuente de la India is a fountain by Giuseppe Gaggini in Havana, Cuba, at the south extreme of Paseo del Prado, about 100 m south of El Capitolio, between Monte and Dragones Streets. The figure represents the Indian woman "Habana" in whose honor Havana was named.

Eugenio Rayneri Piedra

Eugenio Rayneri Piedra is the architect of numerous buildings in Havana, son of Eugenio Rayneri Sorrentino a remarkable architect, author of the entrance of the Colón Cemetery and the Mercado de Tacón. Noteworthy is one of the architects of the Cuban National Capitol Building,, completed in 1929 during the administration of President Gerardo Machado Morales. The first graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture in 1904, returned to Havana to enter into private practice with his father. He won an international competition for Cuba’s Presidential Palace, and was founder and first president of the Cuban Society of Architects. He was also professor at the University of Havana, brother of pianist Laura Rayneri Piedra, and uncle of ballet master Fernando Alonso (dancer).

Parque Central, Havana Park in the city center of Havana

The Parque Central, Havana is one of the best known and central sites of the city of Havana, Cuba. It is located between Prado, Neptuno, Zulueta and San José streets, and San Rafael Boulevard. Among the buildings surrounding the park are Gran Teatro de La Habana, the Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Telégrafo, el Hotel Parque Central, la Manzana de Gómez, the Hotel Plaza and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Radiocentro CMQ Building Radio & television studios, commercial, offices, movie theatre in Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba

The Radiocentro CMQ Building complex is a former radio and television production facility and office building at the intersection of Calle L and La Rampa in El Vedado, Cuba. It was modeled after Raymond Hood's 1933 Rockefeller Center in New York City. With 1,650 seats, the theater first opened on December 23, 1947 under the name Teatro Warner Radiocentro, it was owned by brothers Goar and Abel Mestre. Today the building serves as the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT).

Plaza del Vapor, Havana Courtyard in Havana, Cuba

The Plaza del Vapor was a covered market in Havana. Its name derives from its builder Francisco Martí who became later the impresario of the Tacón Theatre and who had a monopoly of fish trade in the city. Martí had a painting placed against a wall from a bar of the ship El Neptuno, the first vapor that made regular round trips between Havana and Matanzas. "It was the image of that ship that ended up naming the building." From the Plaza del Vapor, Martí sold 50% of all the lottery tickets. in Cuba.

Palacio de la Marquesa de Villalba, Havana Residential in Havana, Cuba

Built in 1875, in the Reparto de las Las Murallas,, it was the work of the architect Eugenio Rayneri y Sorrentino. Around 1880 the mansion was owned by the Count of Casa Moré. The “La Flor de José Murias” tobacco factory was installed in the building. Later, through the exploitation of rents, it became a tenement house. In 1951 some of its spaces were dedicated to housing. On its upper floor, the Spanish Center and the Israeli Center of Cuba had their headquarters.

Hotel Perla de Cuba, Havana Hotel in Havana, Cuba

The Hotel Perla de Cuba in Havana was the first commercial hotel in Cuba, it was situated on the corner of Dragones and Amistad in the municipality of Centro Habana.

Hotel Saratoga Hotel in Havana, Cuba

The Hotel Saratoga is located on the Paseo del Prado, in Old Havana near the Fuente de la India. Built in 1880 for warehouses, it was remodeled as a hotel in 1933 and reopened in 2005. A gas explosion occurred at the hotel on 6 May 2022, killing forty-six people.

Hotel Pasaje, Havana Former hotel in Habana, Cuba

The Hotel Pasaje was a hotel located on Paseo del Prado between San José and Dragones, facing the National Capitol in Havana, Cuba.

Palacio del Segundo Cabo

The Palacio del Segundo Cabo was built in the last decades of the 18th century, between 1770 and 1791, as part of the urban improvement project around the Plaza de Armas.




  1. "Archived copy". www.capitolio.cu. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "El Capitolio" . Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  3. "Termina la restauración de la cúpula del Capitolio Nacional" (in Spanish). 30 August 2019.
  4. "Ultimate Guide to Havana Cuba" . Retrieved 2021-11-27.

El Capitolio (Havana)