The Cuban capital, founded nearly five centuries ago, is the island nation's major tourist destination, offering a wide range of cultural, historic and natural options to thousands of tourists who visit the city every year.
The former Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana, is one of the best exponents of Spanish-colonial architecture in Cuba. Havana's notoriety dates back to the 16th century.
Called at the time the Fortified City of the West Indies and the Key to the New World, Havana is at present a living museum showing a wide range of architectural styles, as a result of the different stages of the development of the city.
Its fortification system, with the emblematic Castle of the Three Kings of Morro, includes nine large fortresses, which – according to experts – make up the most outstanding defense complex in the Spanish-speaking Americas.
The Castillo de la Real Fuerza (completed in 1577) paved the way to Renaissance design in military constructions in the continent, an architectural style that prevailed in Spain during the Catholic Monarch's rule, and was also known as Elizabethan style.
In addition, Old Havana, which was declared Humankind's Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), holds nearly 140 buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries, and about 200 houses from the 18th century and more than 460 buildings from the 19th century.
Precisely, Old Havana holds major buildings from the Spanish-colonial period that have been turned into attractive facilities for tourists.
Cultural and historic facilities, shops and hotels are part of the city's offers for those who choose to spend their vacations in Cuba.
In downtown Havana, tourists can visit the district known as El Vedado, which was an area where hunting was forbidden in the 16th century and whose thick vegetation prevented attackers from accessing the village of San Cristóbal de La Habana.
The area's real estate development in the late 19th century resulted in the elimination of the forest and the design of streets and squares.
At present, El Vedado is where most day and night activities take place, as it holds several restaurants, discotheques, nightclubs, movie theaters, state institutions, airline offices and hotels.
Havana has several squares, especially the Arms, Cathedral, Old, Cristo and San Francisco squares, being the latter near the church and convent of Saint Francis of Assisi.