Havana Receives Title as “Wonder City of the World”

Guiding a group of tourists. Photo: Juan Suarez


HAVANA TIMES — At nearly 500 years of existence, the city of Havana receives today recognition as one of the seven “Wonder Cities of the World”, awarded by the Swiss foundation New7Wonders, reports dpa news.

The  “Wonder Cities” were chosen by popular vote online by millions of people. The list includes La Paz (Bolivia), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Beirut (Lebanon), Vigan (Philippines) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

The choice of the seven “Wonder Cities” was the third vote promoted by the New7Wonders Foundation, which previously chose seven monuments and seven nature wonders of the world.

The main event will be held today at the esplanade of the San Salvador de la Punta Castle at the entrance of Havana Bay, where the monument and a memorial plaque with the recognition granted will be unveiled.

Havana was originally founded under the name of Villa of San Cristobal of Havana on November 16, 1519. Its previous site, in 1514, was further south but five years later was moved north to its present location.

Its original name is the combination of its Catholic patron, San Cristobal, and the chief Habaguanex, who led the natives of the area.

Since 1982 its colonial historic center is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and thanks to reconstruction efforts led by the City Historian Eusebio Leal, today its monumental architecture is one of Cuba’s biggest tourist attractions.

The traditional coastline promenade, known as the Malecon, the Baroque Cathedral, the castles of the Three Kings of the Morro or that of the Castle del Principe are just some of the attractions.

As part of the celebrations for the recognition of “Wonder City,” starting today until June 11 a series of cultural activities will take place in squares, parks and streets of the area.

On Tuesday night, a gala at the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater features the participation of groups including the Buena Vista Social Club, the National Lyrical Theatre, and the Lizt Alfonso Ballet.

The corner, another side to Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

10 thoughts on “Havana Receives Title as “Wonder City of the World”

  • …Which brings us back to your original comment, and my subsequent question. What exactly did Castro do to save or “preserve” Havana?

  • I suggest that you and Informed Consent split the difference. That’s to say that using Soviet handouts, Fidel is responsible for the building of schools, medical clinics, and basic housing in the countryside. No argument from me there. Unfortunately, he did not maintain the infrastructure nor enable the Cuban people to do it for themselves. Today, most of those policlinicos are closed or inadequate, the schools are collapsing and the homes are deteriorated to the point of being inhabitable anywhere else on the planet. The money Castro used to export his failed revolution should have been used to modernize factories and maintain infrastructure. Since you mentioned Caracas, you are partially correct. What Chavez did in Venezuela is attempt to do what Castro did in Cuba. Castro had Soviet rubles and Chavez had petroleum dollars. Both despots failed to reinvest in human an physical infrastructure. The results of their failures are evident today.

  • Yeah Man!

  • I guess you’re right. Nothing in the countryside has changed in these past 57 years. Everybody is still illiterate, all the kids are running around barefoot w/ distended bellies full of parasites, and only 2% have indoor plumbing….
    When I think of all the times you chide other commentors for not knowing or acknowledging the real Cuba, I can only shake my head. By the way, my inlaws drink batidos.

  • Bohios are still around Dan, they have gone nowhere. All the Castros did was bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. I’m happy your in-laws can enjoy a cold class of water. Perhaps in the next 50 years the Castros can get around to giving them a glass of milk as well.

    …however we digress. I believe we were discussing what the Castros did to preserve Havana and add to the Cultural legacy of Cuba. The answer is of course….Nothing! And the bohios in the countryside remain. indeed you can now say that Havana is one giant bohio as well. It would actually be safer to live in the countryside as you would not have to worry about getting electrocuted or having your home collapse.

    And the Soviet subsidies? ….they were used to grow the military and export revolution, certainly not to improve the living standards of the average Cuban. That’s why as a kid living in the Vedado district (you were correct about that) I had to save my chewing gum (when we could find any) and re-flavor it with toothpaste (when we had enough), because you never knew when you would find more chewing gum.

    Dan, don’t try to paint the revolution as something it’s not. It was, and remains, an unmitigated disaster!

  • My inlaws lived in bohios w/ servicios in 1960 in the countryside in Holguin province. Around 1968 the government gave them decent apartments w/ electricity and indoor toilets. The guajiros got refrigerators and could finally enjoy a glass of cold water, just like your bourgeois family in Vedado. Multiply this by tens of thousands. Do you not know this ? Do you not know of the Revolutions drive to uplift the countryside, even if it meant spending less in the capital ?

  • How did you arrive at that conclusion? Have you actually seen Havana? It’s a miracle it’s still standing! Can you point to any civil construction programs or architectural achievements post 1959? ….any? Castro received billions and billions in Soviet support. What did he do with that money Dan? Certainly he didn’t spend it on improving the lives of Cubans.

  • Where is Castro mentioned in this article ? Anyway, w/o Fidel, Havana would look like Caracas today and there would be precious little to preserve.

  • I bet there’s a magazine or some sort of promotion attached to this New7Wonders announcement. Here in San Francisco, one of the world’s truly most beautiful and iconic cities, there’s a new award every month. Someone is always trying to sell something. There are buildings all over Havana that betray that city’s former glory. But there are also far too many collapsed and near-collapsing buildings to provoke any emotion more than pity for what the Castros have done to Havana and Cuba as a whole.

  • Old Havana is a pearl which owes its reconstruction to UNESCO finance (with the largest contributor being the US) not to the Castro regime. Clearly this Swiss ‘New7Wonders’ (who are they and who do they represent?) organization did not visit, Alamar, Marianoa or La Lisa.
    The UN has its own list of the best cities in the world which includes Vienna, Vancouver, Melbourne, Toronto and other similar cities where the whole cities are attractive.

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