Friday, June 01, 2012

Crumbling architecture of Old Havana

There are many people who actually do not fancy Havana, mainly because they could not, or chose not to see the beauty and the charm behind the crumbling buildings and open sewers in the old city centre. No one likes disintegration and decay. And I am sure no one likes poverty as well. So that I can understand.

But I guess it’s the artist in me that attracts me to Havana Vieja. The city is surreal. It’s a bizarre trapped-in-a-different-time world. Time definitely stands still in Havana.

While walking the streets of Old Havana, I can obviously see the past glory of this stunning city. The traces of power and grandeur from the beautiful edifices gracing the city streets of this once prosperous land. I think of Paris, Prague and Budapest. Combine the architecture of the 3 cities together, add a century in between, the Cuban revolution, vestiges of warfare and its consequences, communism, the embargo and freezing everything altogether in 1950, then there, you have Havana.

People really live inside these dilapidated buildings. We saw a grandma walking on her rotten balcony and we worried that she might slip from the brick and wooden rubble and fall through the big holes and gaps. We could see her feet from the street below. It is that bad, and scary.

Amid this decaying state and poverty, it is very interesting to notice that the locals living in Havana Vieja still have money to spend on painting the facade of their homes, usually in different pastel colours, than actually fixing it. Or perhaps this is an initiative from the goverment to help keep the charm of Havana Vieja in tact? Moreover, the Havanaians seem to have a positive charge about most things because they continue to celebrate life no matter what.

Although my heart goes out to the decaying structures I can’t help but see the charm behind it. I hope UNESCO will continue to help the city in restoring the beautiful buildings because Havana is unique and it deserves a world of its own.

Here are some pictures of the crumbling architectures of Old Havana (Havana Vieja):

More of Old Havana next...

Travel Period: May 2012
Destination: Havana, Cuba

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