Robaina's plantation

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

El Templete (Plaza de Armas) Havana

                    "El Templete is a monument in Havana that pays homage to the place where the foundation of the town of San Cristóbal de la Habana was celebrated in 1519. The monument consists of a bust of Christopher Columbus and three canvases painted by Jean Baptiste Vermay. It is a Neoclassic building, typical example of colonial architecture. Close to the Templete, there is a column which replaces a silk-cotton tree, under which the first mass and the first Council of Havana were celebrated."

                   The building sits on the opposite side of the 'Palacio Capitanes y Generales' in the Plaza de Armas, Havana Bay and the 'El Templete' restaurant are right behind it. The building isn't that big at all and after entering, it surprised me how tiny it actually was. The building was erected in 1828 with it's interior paintings which show important rituals that took place on this site. The painter's and his wife's remains are kept in a tomb inside the temple. The Temple is an important symbol for the city of Havana and marks the Plaza's beginnings in 1519. The very first symbol was the planting of a Ceiba tree, which has since been replaced. The first mass of the city was held under the original tree on this site. Every November 16, thousands of people come here to walk 3 circles around the tree, as per tradition. They will later toss coins at the base of the tree and make 3 wishes.
                   Is it worth going inside?? If you're a history buff, I guess it is. If you're just a regular tourist, you might be a little disappointed. I don't know what I was expecting but I thought there would be more. The building is more impressive looking at from the outside and makes for better pictures.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón (The Colon Cemetery) Havana 2019

                   I've come here on several occasions through the years and still haven't walked around the entire property. Considering the cemetery measures 620 by 800 meters (122.5 acres), it's no wonder. On my previous visit to the cemetery I wandered off in a different direction.
                 The cemetery grounds holds 800,000 graves with 1 million interments spread over 56 hectares of land in a rectangular shape with the chapel in the center. The 'Capilla Central' (chapel) opened it's doors in 1886. It's of Romanesque style, 28 meters high and with an octagonal base. When the cemetery was created, this part of Havana, the 'Vedado' district, was farmland or country. The rich would have had their country homes out this way. The area where the cemetery now sits had been set aside for this purpose since the mid 1800's. The church had bought these lands and the first stone was laid in 1871. However, the first burial took place in Nov. 1868. It was already being used as a cemetery 3 years before they started working on it.
                 This is definitely a catholic cemetery with it's many statues and sculptures depicting it's beliefs; angels, saints, Jesus and the Virgin Mary....  fill the landscape making it impossible to think of the influence being anything but Catholicism here. It's been ranked 3rd or 4th best in the world in beauty and importance. It has been dedicated to Christopher Columbus and it has been said that his ashes were in this cemetery at one time.
                  This cemetery is filled with history and as in the city it resides in, noble palaces in the most privileged areas border the poorest ones. Here in the cemetery you will find large monuments dedicated to those who left this earth next to the simplest of tombs. Here you can find Greco-Roman temples, an Egyptian pyramid, medieval castles and Renaissance crypts. Through time, famous; poets, illustrious educators, heroes of the Wars of  Independence, high ranking officers of the Spanish army, nobles and immigrants have been buried even contains the corpses of the US Marines that died on the Warship the 'Maine' which exploded in the Havana harbour on Feb. 1898.  They have all been brought here to slowly build this space to what it is today. Walking through this cemetery is like walking through the history of Cuba.
                 The entrance fee (no tour) is a few CUC and well worth it in my opinion. They offer tours but I didn't check to see the when and how much. It's Cuba, it shouldn't be a lot of money. A great way to spend an hour or two, there's no end to photo ops here, absolutely wonderful.

A few notable tombs: independence leader General Máximo Gómez (1836-1905), novelist Alejo Carpentier (1904–80), Señora Amelia Goyri, better known as La Milagrosa, scientist Carlos Finlay (1833–1915), the Martyrs of Granma and the Veterans of the Independence Wars, singer Ibrahim Ferrer (1927–2005), pianist Rubén González (1919–2003) and the firefighters monument (1890).

8am-6pm, last entry 5pm

Tomb of the Miraculous (La Milagrosa) 

Bomberos (Firemen) Monument

Capilla Central (1886) above and below....The Cemetery's Chapel