History of Havana

Last updated
Havana
San Cristóbal de la Habana
1740 Plan of the city and harbour of the Havanna situated on the island of Cuba BPL m8628.png
Map of the city and harbour of Havana in 1740

Havana was founded in the sixteenth century displacing Santiago de Cuba as the island's most important city when it became a major port for Atlantic shipping, particularly the Spanish treasure fleet. [1]

Havana Capital city of Cuba

Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. 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.

Santiago de Cuba City in Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is the second-largest city in Cuba and the capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province. It lies in the southeastern area of the island, some 870 km (540 mi) southeast of the Cuban capital of Havana.

Spanish treasure fleet Convoy system used by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790

The Spanish treasure fleet, or West Indies Fleet from Spanish Flota de Indias, also called silver fleet or plate fleet, was a convoy system of sea routes organized by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790, which linked Spain with its territories in America across the Atlantic. The convoys were general purpose cargo fleets used for transporting a wide variety of items, including agricultural goods, lumber, various metal resources such as silver and gold, gems, pearls, spices, sugar, tobacco, silk, and other exotic goods from the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire to the Spanish mainland. Spanish goods such as oil, wine, textiles, books and tools were transported in the opposite direction. The West Indies fleet was the first permanent transatlantic trade route in history. Similarly, the Manila galleons were the first permanent trade route across the Pacific.

Contents

History

Founding of Havana

Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, governor of Cuba who moved Havana's location in 1514. DiegoVelazquezCuellar.jpg
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, governor of Cuba who moved Havana's location in 1514.

Havana was first visited by Spaniards during Sebastián de Ocampo's circumnavigation of the island in 1509. [2] In 1510, the first Spanish colonists arrived from the island of Hispaniola and began the conquest of Cuba. Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded San Cristóbal de la Habana on August 25, 1514 or 1515, on the northern coast of the island, near the present town of Surgidero de Batabanó, or more likely on the banks of the Mayabeque River close to Playa Mayabeque. All attempts to found a city on Cuba's south coast failed, however, an early map of Cuba drawn in 1514 places the town at the mouth of this river. [3] [4] (in Spanish). Between 1514 and 1519, the city had two different establishments on the north coast, one of them in La Chorrera, today in the neighborhood of Puentes Grandes, next to the Almendares River. Havana's present location is adjacent to what was then called Puerto de Cardenas, in 1519. The quality of this natural bay, now the site of Havana's harbor, warranted this change of location. Bartolomé de las Casas wrote:

Sebastián de Ocampo was a Spanish navigator and explorer. He is believed to have been the first navigator to have circumnavigated the island of Cuba in 1508.

Hispaniola Caribbean island divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most populous and second-largest island in the West Indies.

Hispaniola is an island in the Caribbean archipelago known as the Greater Antilles. It is the most populous island in the West Indies and the region's second largest after Cuba.

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar Spanish governor of Cuba

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain and moved Havana from the south coast of western Cuba to the north coast, placing it well as a port for Spanish trade.

...one of the ships, or both, had the need of careening, which is to renew or mend the parts that travel under the water, and to put tar and wax in them, and entered the port we now call Havana, and there they careened so the port was called de Carenas. This bay is very good and can host many ships, which I visited few years after the Discovery... few are in Spain, or elsewhere in the world, that are their equal... [2]

This superb harbor at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico with easy access to the Gulf Stream, the main ocean current that navigators followed when traveling from the Americas to Europe, led to Havana's early development as the principal port of Spain's New World colonies. This final establishment is commemorated by El Templete.

Americas Landmass comprising North America, Central America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

El Templete

Built in 1827, El Templete commemorates the site of the first mass and town council of San Cristóbal de la Habana celebrated on November 16, 1519.

Map of Havana, 1739 1739 Plan of the city and harbour of Havanna situated on the island of Cuba by Milton BPL m8627.png
Map of Havana, 1739

Havana was the sixth town founded by the Spanish on the island, called San Cristóbal de la Habana by Pánfilo de Narváez: the name combines San Cristóbal, patron saint of Havana, and Habana, of obscure origin, possibly derived from Habaguanex, a Native American chief who controlled that area, as mentioned by Diego Velasquez in his report to the king of Spain. Shortly after the founding of Cuba's first cities, the island served as little more than a base for expeditions of exploration, conquest, and settlement of other lands. Hernán Cortés organized his expedition to Mexico from the island. Cuba, during the first years of the Discovery, provided no immediate wealth to the conquistadores, as it was poor in gold, silver and precious stones, and many of its settlers moved to the more promising lands of Mexico and South America that were being discovered and colonized at the time. The legends of Eldorado and the Seven Cities of Gold attracted many adventurers from Spain, and also from the adjacent colonies, leaving Havana and the rest of Cuba largely unpopulated.

Pánfilo de Narváez Spanish conquistador and soldier in the Americas

Pánfilo de Narváez was a Spanish conquistador and soldier in the Americas. Born in Spain, he first embarked to Jamaica in 1510 as a soldier. He came to participate in the conquest of Cuba and led an expedition to Camagüey escorting Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas described him as exceedingly cruel towards the natives.

Patron saint saint regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person

A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

DonHernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Pirates and the Spanish Treasure Fleet

French pirate Jacques de Sores looting and burning Havana in 1555 Jacquesdesores.jpg
French pirate Jacques de Sores looting and burning Havana in 1555

Havana was originally a trading port, and suffered regular attacks by buccaneers, pirates, and French corsairs. The first attack and resultant burning of the city was by the French corsair Jacques de Sores in 1555. The pirate took Havana easily, plundering the city and burning much of it to the ground. De Sores left without obtaining the enormous wealth he was hoping to find in Havana. Such attacks convinced the Spanish Crown to fund the construction of the first fortresses in the main cities not only to counteract the pirates and corsairs, but also to exert more control over commerce with the West Indies, and to limit the extensive contrabando (black market) that had arisen due to the trade restrictions imposed by the Casa de Contratación of Seville (the crown-controlled trading house that held a monopoly on New World trade).

Buccaneer In the seventeenth century, sailors lived on the hunt for wild beef and pork, smoked meat and sold skins.

Buccaneers were a kind of privateer or free sailor peculiar to the Caribbean Sea during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Piracy Act of robbery or criminal violence at sea

Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations. Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy, as well as for privateering and commerce raiding. Historic examples include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel, whose geographic structures facilitated pirate attacks. A land-based parallel is the ambushing of travelers by bandits and brigands in highways and mountain passes. Privateering uses similar methods to piracy, but the captain acts under orders of the state authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation, making it a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors.

French corsairs French privateers authorized by the French crown

Corsairs were privateers, authorized to conduct raids on shipping of a nation at war with France, on behalf of the French crown. Seized vessels and cargo were sold at auction, with the corsair captain entitled to a portion of the proceeds. Although not French Navy personnel, corsairs were considered legitimate combatants in France, provided the commanding officer of the vessel was in possession of a valid letter of marque, and the officers and crew conducted themselves according to contemporary admiralty law. By acting on behalf of the French Crown, if captured by the enemy, they could in principle claim treatment as prisoners of war, instead of being considered pirates. Because corsairs gained a swashbuckling reputation, the word "corsair" is also used generically as a more romantic or flamboyant way of referring to privateers, or even to pirates. The Barbary pirates of North Africa as well as the Ottoman Empire were sometimes called "Turkish corsairs".

To counteract pirate attacks on galleon convoys headed for Spain while loaded with New World treasures, the Spanish crown decided to protect its ships by concentrating them in one large fleet, the Spanish treasure fleet, which would traverse the Atlantic Ocean as a group. A single merchant fleet could more easily be protected by the Spanish Armada or Navy. Following a royal decree in 1561, all ships headed for Spain were required to assemble this fleet in the Havana Bay. Ships arrived from May through August, waiting for the best weather conditions, and together, the fleet departed Havana for Spain by September.

This naturally boosted commerce and development of the adjacent city of Havana (a humble villa at the time). Goods traded in Havana included gold, silver, alpaca wool from the Andes, emeralds from Colombia, mahoganies from Cuba and Guatemala, leather from the Guajira, spices, sticks of dye from Campeche, corn, manioc, and cocoa. Ships from all over the New World carried products first to Havana, in order to be taken by the fleet to Spain. The thousands of ships gathered in the city's bay also fueled Havana's agriculture and manufacture, since they had to be supplied with food, water, and other products needed to traverse the ocean. In 1563, the Capitán General (the Spanish Governor of the island) moved his residence from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, by reason of that city's newly gained wealth and importance, thus unofficially sanctioning its status as capital of the island.

On December 20, 1592, King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City (ciudad). Later on, the city would be officially designated as "Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies" by the Spanish crown. In the meantime, efforts to build or improve the defensive infrastructures of the city continued. The San Salvador de la Punta castle guarded the west entrance of the bay, while the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro guarded the eastern entrance. The Castillo de la Real Fuerza defended the city's center, and doubled as the Governor's residence until a more comfortable palace was built. Two other defensive towers, La Chorrera and San Lázaro were also built in this period..

17th–18th centuries

17th c. Dutch engraving of Havana Panorama of La Habana (Amsterdam, 17th century).jpg
17th c. Dutch engraving of Havana

Havana expanded greatly in the 17th century. New buildings were constructed from the most abundant materials of the island, mainly wood, combining various Iberian architectural styles, as well as borrowing profusely from Canarian characteristics. During this period the city also built civic monuments and religious constructions. The convent of St Augustin, El Morro Castle, the chapel of the Humilladero, the fountain of Dorotea de la Luna in La Chorrera, the church of the Holy Angel, the hospital de San Lazaro, the monastery of Santa Teresa and the convent of San Felipe Neri were completed in this era.

In 1649 a fatal epidemic, brought from Cartagena in Colombia, affected a third of the population of Havana. On November 30, 1665, Queen Mariana of Austria, widow of King Philip IV of Spain, ratified the heraldic shield of Cuba, which took as its symbolic motifs the first three castles of Havana: the Real Fuerza, the Tres Santos Reyes Magos del Morro and San Salvador de la Punta. The shield also displayed a symbolic golden key to represent the title "Key to the Gulf". On 1674, the works for the City Walls were started, as part of the fortification efforts. They would be completed by 1740.

By the middle of the 18th century Havana had more than seventy thousand inhabitants, and was the third-largest city in the Americas, ranking behind Lima and Mexico City but ahead of Boston and New York. [5]

British occupation

Siege of Havana (1762)

The British fleet entering Havana in 1762 British fleet entering Havana.jpg
The British fleet entering Havana in 1762

The city was captured by the British during the Seven Years' War. The episode began on June 6, 1762, when at dawn, a British fleet, comprising more than 50 ships and a combined force of over 11,000 men of the Royal Navy and Army, sailed into Cuban waters and made an amphibious landing east of Havana. [6] The invaders seized the heights known as La Punta on the east side of the harbor and commenced a bombardment of nearby El Morro Castle, as well as the city itself. After a two-month siege, [7] El Morro was attacked and taken, only after the death of the brave defender Luis Vicente de Velasco e Isla, on 30 July 1762. The city formally surrendered on 13 August. [6] It was subsequently governed by Sir George Keppel on behalf of Great Britain. Although the British only lost 560 men to combat injuries during the siege, more than half their forces ultimately died due to illness, yellow fever in particular.

The British immediately opened up trade with their North American and Caribbean colonies, causing a rapid transformation of Cuban society. Food, horses and other goods flooded into the city, and thousands of slaves from West Africa were transported to the island to work on the undermanned sugar plantations. [7] Though Havana, which had become the third largest city in the new world, was to enter an era of sustained development and strengthening ties with North America, the British occupation was not to last. Pressure from London by sugar merchants fearing a decline in sugar prices forced a series of negotiations with the Spanish over colonial territories. Less than a year after Havana was seized, the Treaty of Paris (1763) was signed by the three warring powers thus ending the Seven Years' War. The treaty gave Britain Florida in exchange for the city of Havana on the recommendation of the French, who advised that declining the offer could result in Spain losing Mexico and much of the South American mainland to the British. [7]

View of the plaza of Havana under British occupation. (Painting by Dominic Serres) Dominic Serres the Elder - The Piazza at Havana.jpg
View of the plaza of Havana under British occupation. (Painting by Dominic Serres)

After regaining the city, the Spanish transformed Havana into the most heavily fortified city in the Americas. Construction began on what was to become the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, the biggest Spanish fortification in the New World. The work extended for eleven years and was enormously costly, but on completion the fort was considered an unassailable bastion and essential to Havana's defence. It was provided with a large number of cannons forged in Barcelona. Other fortifications were constructed, as well: the castle of Atarés defended the Shipyard in the inner bay, while the castle of El Príncipe guarded the city from the west. Several cannon batteries located along the bay's canal (among them the San Nazario and Doce Apóstoles batteries) ensured that no place in the harbor remained undefended.

The Havana cathedral was constructed in 1748 as a Jesuit church, and converted in 1777 into the Parroquial Mayor church, after the Suppression of the Jesuits in Spanish territory in 1767. In 1788, it formally became a Cathedral. Between 1789 and 1790 Cuba was apportioned into an individual diocese by the Roman Catholic Church. On January 15, 1796, the remains of Christopher Columbus were transported to the island from Santo Domingo. They rested here until 1898, when they were transferred to Seville's Cathedral, after Spain's loss of Cuba.

Havana's shipyard (named El Arsenal) was extremely active, thanks to the lumber resources available in the vicinity of the city. The Santísima Trinidad was the largest warship of her time. Launched in 1769, she was about 62 metres (203 ft) long, had three decks and 120 cannons. She was later upgraded to as many as 144 cannons and four decks. She sank following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. This ship cost 40.000 pesos fuertes of the time, which gives an idea of the importance of the Arsenal, by comparing its cost to the 26 million pesos fuertes and 109 ships produced during the Arsenal's existence. [8]

19th century

19th century view of Havana 1851 View of Habana.jpg
19th century view of Havana
Historic coat of arms of Havana (18th century-1898) Coat of arms of Havana (Colonial).svg
Historic coat of arms of Havana (18th century–1898)

As trade between Caribbean and North American states increased in the early 19th century, Havana became a flourishing and fashionable city. Havana's theaters featured the most distinguished actors of the age, and prosperity amongst the burgeoning middle-class led to expensive new classical mansions being erected. During this period Havana became known as the Paris of the Antilles.

The 19th century opened with the arrival in Havana of Alexander von Humboldt, who was impressed by the vitality of the port. In 1837, the first railroad was constructed, a 51 km stretch between Havana and Bejucal, which was used for transporting sugar from the Valle de Güines to the harbor. With this, Cuba became the fifth country in the world to have a railroad, and the first Spanish-speaking country. Throughout the century, Havana was enriched by the construction of additional cultural facilities, such as the Tacon Teatre, one of the most luxurious in the world, the Artistic and Literary Liceo (Lyceum) and the theater Coliseo (Colosseum). The fact that slavery was legal in Cuba until 1886 led to Southern American interest, including a plan by the Knights of the Golden Circle to create a 'Golden Circle' with a 1200 mile-radius centered on Havana. After the Confederate States of America were defeated in the American Civil War in 1865, many former slaveholders continued to run plantations by moving to Havana.

In 1863, the city walls were knocked down so that the metropolis could be enlarged. At the end of the century, the well-off classes moved to the quarter of Vedado. Later, they emigrated towards Miramar, and today, evermore to the west, they have settled in Siboney. At the end of the 19th century, Havana witnessed the final moments of Spanish colonialism in America, which ended definitively when the United States warship Maine was sunk in its port, giving that country the pretext to invade the island. The 20th century began with Havana, and therefore Cuba, under occupation by the USA. In 1906 the Bank of Nova Scotia opened the first branch in Havana, Cuba. By 1931 it had three branches in Havana.

Republican period and Post-revolution

Map of Havana 1866 Habana 1866 ciudad.jpg
Map of Havana 1866
Havana, c. 1900. Photo by William Henry Jackson. Calle de Habana, Habana cph3g05915u.jpg
Havana, c. 1900. Photo by William Henry Jackson.

During the Republican Period, from 1902 to 1959, the city saw a new era of development. All endeavors of industry and commerce grew very rapidly. Cuba recovered from the devastation of war to become a well-off country, with the third largest middle class in the hemisphere, and Havana, the Capital of the country, became known as the Paris of the Caribbean. Construction was an important industry. Apartment buildings to accommodate the new middle class, as well as mansions for the Cuban tycoons, were built at a fast pace. Numerous luxury hotels, casinos and nightclubs were constructed during the 1930s to serve Havana's burgeoning tourist industry, strongly rivaling Miami. In the thirties, organized crime characters were not unaware of Havana's nightclub and casino life, and they made their inroads in the city. Santo Trafficante, Jr. took the roulette wheel at the Sans Souci, Meyer Lansky directed the Hotel Habana Riviera, with Lucky Luciano at the Hotel Nacional Casino. The Havana Hilton owned by the Hospitality Workers Retirement Fund was Latin America's tallest, largest hotel. At the time, Havana became an exotic capital of appeal and numerous activities ranging from marinas, grand prix car racing, musical shows and parks.

Muelle San Francisco, Havana, Cuba, 1904 Muelle San Francisco, Havana, Cuba, 1904.jpg
Muelle San Francisco, Havana, Cuba, 1904

The development and opportunity offered by Cuba in general, and Havana in particular, made the island a magnet for immigration. Cuba received millions of immigrants during the Republic. It received so many Spaniards that, today, it is estimated that one quarter of the Cuban population descends from Spanish immigrants.

Havana achieved the title of being the Latin American city with the biggest middle class population per-capita, simultaneously accompanied by gambling and corruption where gangsters and stars were known to mix socially. During this era, Havana was generally producing more revenue than Las Vegas, Nevada. A gallery of black and white portraits from the era still adorn the walls of the bar at the Hotel National, including pictures of Frank Sinatra with Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper. In 1958, about 300,000 American tourists visited the city. One of the most well-known visitors and resident to the area was the American author Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), who quoted, "In terms of beauty, only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana". Hemingway wrote several of his famous novels in Cuba and lived there the last 22 years of his life. [9] Havana had 135 cinemas at that time – more than Paris or New York City. [10] [11]

Havana following the American invasion. Detroit Photographic Company (0990).jpg
Havana following the American invasion.

After the revolution of 1959, the new regime promised to improve social services, public housing, and official buildings; nevertheless, shortages that affected Cuba after Castro's abrupt expropriation of all private property and industry under a strong communist model backed by the Soviet Union followed by the U.S. embargo, hit Havana especially hard. As a result, today much of Havana is in a dilapidated state. By 1966–68, the Cuban government had nationalized all privately owned business entities in Cuba, down to "certain kinds of small retail forms of commerce" (law No. 1076 [12] ). Most of these laws and economic restrictions still remain today. Havana and Cuba in general transformed from an immigrant receiver, to one of the largest emigration generators in the world. Today almost 15% of the total Cuban population lives abroad, even despite the fact that free travel is banned by the regime.

There was a severe economic downturn after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. With it, subsidies ended, losing billions of dollars which the Soviet Union gave the Cuban government, with many believing Havana's soviet-backed regime would soon vanish, as happened to the Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. However, contrary to the soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe, Havana's communist regime prevailed during the 1990s. The worsening situation has been illustrated by the favorite joke in the summer of 1991. Soon after Fidel Castro came to power, the signs in the Havana Zoo were changed from "don't feed the animals" to "don't eat the animal's food". During the Special Period, the signs begged visitors not to eat the animals. [13] [14] Indeed, the peacocks, the buffalo and even the rhea reportedly disappeared from the Havana zoo. [14]

After 50 years of prohibition, the communist government increasingly turned to tourism for new financial revenue, and has allowed foreign investors to build new hotels and develop hospitality industry. Paradoxically, while foreign investment is welcome, Cubans are forbidden to participate. The Cuban population is only allowed to work as cooks, gardeners and taxi-drivers, but not to become owners or investors of any property. For these reason among others, the tourism industry during the socialist revolution has failed to generate the projected revenues. After a decline in the early 2000s, Cuban tourism hit an all-time high of 2.7 billion dollars (USD) in 2008. [15] In Old Havana, effort has also gone into rebuilding for tourist purposes, and a number of streets and squares have been rehabilitated. [16] But Old Havana is a large city, and the restoration efforts concentrate in all but less than 10% of its area.

See also

Notes

  1. Alejandro de la Fuente, Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2008.
  2. 1 2 (in Spanish) Historia de la Construcción Naval en Cuba
  3. (in Spanish) Fundación de La Habana a orillas del Río Onicajinal o Mayabeque
  4. San Cristobal de La Habana en el Sur
  5. Thomas, Hugh: Cuba, A pursuit of freedom, 2nd Edition, p. 1.
  6. 1 2 Pocock, Tom: Battle for Empire: The very first world war 1756–63. Chapter Six.
  7. 1 2 3 Thomas, Hugh: Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom 2nd edition. Chapter One
  8. "Arquitextos – Periódico mensal de textos de arquitetura".
  9. Ernest Hemingway life – Homing To The Stream: Ernest Hemingway in Cuba.
  10. "The Cuban revolution at 50: Heroic myth and prosaic failure". The Economist. December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  11. Theodore Dalrymple. "Cuba: A Cemetery of Hopes". Archived from the original on 2012-09-20.
  12. Nigel Hunt. "Cuba Nationalization Laws". cuba heritage .org. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  13. Marjorie Sue Zatz. Producing Legality.
  14. 1 2 "Parrot diplomacy". The Economist. July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  15. "Cuba tourism reached record levels in 2008". Usatoday.Com. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  16. Old Havana restoration – Success on the restoration program of Havana

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Provinces of Cuba

Administratively, Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and a special municipality that is not included in any province. The last modification was approved in August 2010, splitting Havana province into two new provinces: Artemisa and Mayabeque. The new provinces started functioning from January 1, 2011. Havana City Province recovered its original name: La Habana.

La Habana Province Province of Cuba

La Habana Province or formerly known as Ciudad de La Habana Province, is a province of Cuba, that includes the territory of the city of Havana, capital of the Republic.

Castillo San Cristóbal (San Juan) Fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo San Cristóbal, is a fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was built by Spain to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is part of San Juan National Historic Site.

Morro Castle (Havana) fortification

Morro Castle, named after the three biblical Magi, is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana bay in Havana, Cuba. The design was drawn up by the Italian engineer Battista Antonelli; originally under the control of Spain, the fortress was captured by the British in 1762, and was returned to the Spanish under treaty terms a year later.

Old Havana Municipality of Havana in Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba

Old Havana is the city-center (downtown) and one of the 15 municipalities forming Havana, Cuba. It has the second highest population density in the city and contains the core of the original city of Havana. The positions of the original Havana city walls are the modern boundaries of Old Havana.

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

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral is one of eleven Catholic cathedrals on the island. It is located in the Plaza de la Catedral on Calle Empedrado, between San Ignacio y Mercaderes, Habana Vieja. The thirty by forty nine meter rectangular church serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Cristobal de la Habana. Christopher Columbus’ remains were kept in the cathedral between 1796 and 1898, before they were taken to Seville Cathedral.

San Cristobal de la Habana (cigar) Cuban cigar brand

San Cristobal de la Habana is the name of a Cuban cigar brand produced in Cuba for Habanos SA, the Cuban state-owned tobacco company.

Municipalities of Cuba

The provinces of Cuba are divided into 168 municipalities or municipios. They were defined by Cuban Law Number 1304 of July 3, 1976 and reformed in 2010 with the abrogation of the municipality of Varadero and the creation of two new provinces: Artemisa and Mayabeque in place of former La Habana Province.

Castillo San Salvador de la Punta

San Salvador de la Punta Fortress is a fortress in the bay of Havana, Cuba.

Siege of Havana battle

The Siege of Havana was a military action from March to August 1762, as part of the Seven Years' War. British forces besieged and captured the city of Havana, which at the time was an important Spanish naval base in the Caribbean, and dealt a serious blow to the Spanish Navy. Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war.

Captaincy General of Cuba Spanish 1607–1898 possession in the Caribbean

The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt to better defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of the Captaincy General in 1764 was the first example of the Bourbon Reforms in America. The changes included adding the provinces of Florida and Louisiana and granting more autonomy for these provinces. This later change was carried out by the Count of Floridablanca under Charles III to strengthen the Spanish position vis-a-vis the British in the Caribbean. A new governor-captain general based in Havana oversaw the administration of the new district. The local governors of the larger Captaincy General had previously been overseen in political and military matters by the president of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo. This audiencia retained oversight of judicial affairs until the establishment of new audiencias in Puerto Príncipe (1800) and Havana (1838). In 1825, as a result of the loss of the mainland possessions, the Spanish government granted the governors-captain generals of Cuba extraordinary powers in matters of administration, justice and the treasury and in the second half of the 19th century gave them the title of Governor General.

Mayabeque River river in Cuba

Mayabeque River is a river of western Cuba, considered the largest in the southwestern watershed of Cuba, with an extensive fluvial network that encompasses the municipalities of Güines, San Jose de las Lajas, Jaruco, Madruga, and Melena del Sur. The old outlet in Melena del Sur is named Antiguo Mayabeque. The Antiguo (ancient) Mayabeque is still navigable by small boats in the last 5 km (3.1 mi).

Bombardment of San Juan Engagement between US Navy warships and Spanish in Puerto Rico

The Bombardment of San Juan, or the First Battle of San Juan, on 12 May 1898 was an engagement between United States Navy warships and the Spanish fortifications of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the first major action of the Puerto Rican Campaign during the Spanish–American War.

Playa Mayabeque Village in Mayabeque, Cuba

Playa Mayabeque is a location in the southern part of Mayabeque Province, within 15 kilometers of Melena del Sur on the southern shore of Cuba. The waters are muddy, to which local people attribute therapeutic properties. In the beach it is located the old outlet of the Mayabeque River, the most important river in the former Havana province, which gave its name to the new province of Mayabeque established in 2011.

Mayabeque Province Province of Cuba

Mayabeque Province is one of two new provinces created from the former La Habana Province, whose creation was approved by the Cuban National Assembly on August 1, 2010, the other being Artemisa Province. The new provinces were enforced on January 1, 2011.

Artemisa Province Province of Cuba

Artemisa Province is one of the two new provinces created from the former La Habana Province, whose creation was approved by the Cuban National Assembly on August 1, 2010, the other being Mayabeque Province. The new provinces were enforced on January 1, 2011.

Torreón de la Chorrera

The Torreón de la Chorrera, or to give it its full name, Fuerte de Santa Dorotea de la Luna de la Chorrera, was completed in May 1646. The tower stands on a coral islet only a few metres from the shore and not much larger than the tower itself. The tower's purpose was to impede the entry of enemy ships into the mouth of the Almendares River. The British damaged and captured the tower when they took the city in 1762, after which it was rebuilt in its present form. Today, the tower contains a restaurant.

The following is a timeline of the history of Havana, Cuba.