Havana: A Photo Essay image

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Our first memories of Havana are ones of delight at every Cuba cliche: American classic cars; the sounds of son and salsa drifting from every bar; old gents sat in doorways smoking cigars and watching the world go by; the crumbling but colourful architecture of Old Havana.

A close up of the front door of an old yellow building that is slowly turning grey
A man stands next to his classic pink car, itself sitting parked next to an old red convertible.

Over the next few days we walked the streets of Old and Central Havana and dodged waves on the iconic malecón. There are many museums in Havana but with the exception of the excellent Cuban art collection at Bellas Artes we shunned them for life on the streets, always finding new avenues to explore.

A long shot of a Havana Street. The buildings on the left are painted green and pink and yellow and on the right eggshell with light blue trim
A faded orange building has the cuban flag painted along its entire length, with Che Guevara's face covering the right hand side
There are no billboards or flyposters on the walls. Instead, we have images of Che and Fidel, Cuban flags and propaganda.
A crumbly light blue door
A photo of a street that runs into blue skies, with buildings painted yellow and orange and blue lining both sides

Life is lived on the streets in Havana. In Old Havana traffic is minimal with as many cycle rickshaws, bicycles and horse carts as 1950s Buicks and Chevys, and Soviet Ladas. Instead people fill the streets—kids playing baseball with broom ends and bottle caps, women hanging laundry from balconies, vendors pulling carts overloaded with fruit and vegetables, customers queuing outside the bare shops, waiting to use their ration cards.

A dirty yellow 1950s Chevrolet sits on the streets of Havana

A picture of Che Guevara painted on a foreground wall with people walking the crumbling streets

These churro venders were among the most popular of street stalls. In the week we were away, their prices doubled from CUC$0.50 to CUC$1.00 with no obvious loss in popularity—a sign of the new layer of Capitalist entrepreneurship that is spreading out on top of this otherwise Communist economy.

A Churro seller holds up a huge spiral of deep fried churros
A lady walks with her shopping past a crumbling pink building

There’s a striking difference between the restored pristine Disneylandia Havana full of tourists from all inclusive resorts and the touts who follow them, and the faded pastel colours of the decaying streets where people live, often only a block apart.

A man walks past a wall painted with Cuban graffiti which features a picture of a man's head and the word 'sect'
The two-storey façade of a striking white colonial building with light blue trim
A ruined metal building frame with "Revolucion" painted on the back wall
A shot across a tree-lined plaza with beautifully painted buildings on the far edge
A picture of the second story of a faded yellow house, with a part of the roof missing and weeds growing on the remainder

Along the malecón, Havana’s seafront promenade fishermen try their luck, kids dive in the water, and musicians hope for tips from the many strolling locals and tourists. Cars and people dodge the waves that crash over the wall, and at sunset the pastel buildings glow in the last light of the day.

The glow of the sunset warms the whites and pale oranges of these Malecón buildings
A blue chevrolet with the eagle ornament flies down the Malecón as the sun lights up the clouds behind
Classic cars along the Malecón
A turquoise car races along the Malecón with the sun turning the old building behind it orange
A young woman sits on the Malecón wall as the sun sets over the bay, creating a silhouette of her and the buildings


  1. I actually liked an information that there is so little traffic in Havana! I live in Bolivia, and however cities don’t looks so diffrent from Cuban, there is a million of cars (not so classy though), causing air pollution and big noise…

    Reply ↓

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