Obama, Baseball & the Architecture of Cuba

President Obama made history today by being the first president to visit Cuba since 1928. “The history-making trip is designed to cement the Administration’s diplomatic outreach to Cuba, making it hard for any future president to return to the half-century old policy of isolation that Obama and his team consider a failure,” NPR writes, in a recent article.

The Tampa Bay Rays also landed in Cuba on Sunday to play an exhibition baseball game against the Cuban national team this Tuesday. “The contest is a nod to the popular past-time the two countries share, and comes as Major League Baseball is negotiating a deal to let Cuban ballplayers sign with big league teams without having to defect,” NPR writes. The team was picked at random from a lottery of teams that volunteered for the trip.

So, in the spirit of the U.S. and Cuba finally getting along, and with promises from airlines to start scheduling more flights to the Caribbean country – here are some beautiful architectural sites to visit!

It has been said that traveling to Havana, Cuba is like traveling back in time: the weathered buildings, the old classic cars and the rich, almost mysterious history of a city that so many Americans have not been able to travel to for so many years. It’s less known however, that at the beginning of the 20th century, Havana underwent an extraordinary boom period, bringing an enriching architectural movement with international influences such as art nouveau, art deco and eclectic design.

Barcadi Building

Maxfield Parrish reliefs grace the Art Deco Bacardi Building in Old Havana.

Capitol bldgHavana’s domed capitol dominates the historic heart of the city.

Cristobal Colon Cemetery

Cristóbal Colón Cemetery.

garden room

The garden room at Casa de la Amistad, a 1920s house in the Vedado neighborhood that is now a restaurant and bar.

Havana streetscape

Standards of the Havana streetscape—arcaded pastel buildings and brightly colored pre-1960 American automobiles.

Hemingway Museum

The Hemingway Museum at Finca Vigía, the Havana-area farm where the novelist lived from 1939 to 1960.

Hotel Habana Riviera

Original furnishings lend a Mad Men vibe to Hotel Habana Riviera, which U.S. mobster Meyer Lansky opened in 1957.

Hotel Sratoga's Bar Mezzanine

Hotel Saratoga’s Bar Mezzanine.

La Guarida Hotel

At the grand entrance to La Guarida restaurant in Old Havana, a hand-painted revolutionary speech joins a headless statue.

Museum of Dec. Arts

The staircase of the Museum of Decorative Arts, a former sugar magnate’s mansion dating from the ’20s.

Revolution Plaza

Enrique Ávila Gonzales’s sculpture of Socialist hero Camilo Cienfuegos dominates a building on Revolution Plaza; it bears the famous Cienfuegos comment YOU’RE DOING FINE, FIDEL.

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, completed in 1930, is a work by the American architecture firm McKim, Mead & White.

Unv. of Arts

African villages inspired one section of the National Art Schools (now the University of Arts of Cuba), a 1960s masterpiece by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti.

If architecture isn’t your forte, Cuba is also known for its white-sand beaches, rolling mountains, cigars and rum! And don’t forget the dancing! Salsa emanates from the city’s dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana.

Photos and descriptions provided by Architectural Digest.

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