Home to the city’s flashiest neighbourhoods, Miramar and the western suburbs comprise Havana’s alter ego. Continue reading to discover the top must see in Miramar, Havana.
Lying to the west of Havana’s historic city center and within the municipality of Playa, Miramar has traditionally been an upscale area with sleek Miami-style residences. This is where the wealth was concentrated before the Cuban Revolution, and it’s slowly trickling back through a growing clique of international investors and foreign residents. Raúl Castro’s economic reforms have unleashed a wave of entrepreneurship. Everywhere there’s evidence of private investments and nightclubs pop up alongside state-of-the-art offices and spruced up mansions housing fashion stores, banks, real estate offices, and foreign companies.
Built in the early 20th century and originally termed the “Avenida de las Américas”, Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) stretches from the tunnel that connects it to Calzada Street, in Vedado, to the Santa Ana River, in the locality of Santa Fe. Considered the most beautiful avenue of its time, its construction was decisive for the development of Miramar.
The tree-lined avenues and stately houses on and around Quinta Avenida suggest that this is where Havana’s elite reside. Sightseers admire the general ambiance of grandeur with the fascinating Art Deco architecture. Many buildings have become embassies and government offices after the original owners fled during the Revolution.
The area is home to the Isla del Coco theme park, the Cuba’s National Aquarium, few interesting museums and plenty of wonderful houses and embassies. Notable is the mysterious tower of the Russian Embassy (between 3rd Av and 5th and 62 St), looking like something from a sci-fi movie and topped by a secondary tower supposedly full of spy gear to peer over the horizon at Florida.
Perhaps the most famous house in Miramar is the one located on the corner of 5th Ave and 2nd St known as The House of Green Tiles, which gave rise to numerous legends since it was built in 1926. One of these legends was that there was a treasure hidden somewhere inside the mansion, a myth that Luisa Rodríguez Faxas believed herself until her death. Today the building is as a center for the promotion and study of modern architecture, urban planning and interior design.
The only proper beach in the area is the one located at Club Habana, just beyond Marina Hemingway. The venue has a long and distinguished history as a beach club for the well heeled. Today it is the one and only beach club left which caters mostly to the expatriate community. The 25 CUC entrance fee is so small compared to the value of this place.
Located in the corner between 1st Av and 24 St, Cafe Fortuna Joe is an unusual State establishment which offers assorted coffee recipes and tapa-like snacks. This hipster-style coffeshop is a must-go for all bohemian souls and the perfect place to take a break during a journey.
The last section of the district comprises Fusterlandia within the former fishing town of Jaimanitas. Fusterlandia is a complex of three-dimensional neighborhood art and a rhapsody of color and creativity. Local artist, José Fuster created this kaleidoscopic display of paintings, sculptures and mosaics throughout the neighborhood to represent his life and art. Described as the “Gaudí of the Caribbean”, Fuster even decorated neighbors’ homes and bus shelters. Stroll through the streets to see the vibrant creations popping out of houses and public areas, then visit Fuster’s home studio.
Many visitors also come to Miramar attracted for the buzzing nightlife, entertainment and its many swanky international restaurants. Notable is the legendary Tropicana Cabaret with a show that is unique both for the location in a tropical garden and its quality repertoire of genuine Cuban music. The equally famous Casa de la Música hosts all the well-known bands plus less-famous groups playing salsa. It is housed in a beautiful old Havana mansion and offers a great atmosphere to listen to the cream of Havana musical talent.
Here, the top must see in Miramar, Havana. Follow the link to discover Ernest Hemingway’s steps in Havana and explore the places where the famous novelist once trod.