A Visit to the Havana City Museum

Photo Feature by Elio Delgado

Piece at the Havana City Museum.

HAVANA TIMES, June 1 — The Museum of the City of Havana is located in the most important building in the history of colonial Cuba, what was the House of Government and the Municipal Palace during the Spanish domination of the island.

The construction of the building began in 1776 by the Governor Felipe Fondesviela and General Captain Marques de La Torre.  It was the government house and the residence of the various Spanish captain generals from 1791 to 1898, and also served as the headquarters of the US government inspector from 1899 to 1902, in addition to the Presidential Palace from May 20 of that last year up until 1920.

Two of the country’s most important historic events took part in the building: the ceremony marking the end of Spanish domination and beginning of US military intervention, and where the Republic was set up and its first president (Tomas Estrada Palma) took office.  It was also headquarters of the governorship, the city council and the offices of the municipality of Havana from its inauguration up until 1959.

Its main doors open onto a wood paved street which itself forms one of the four sides of the Plaza de Armas.

To enjoy the building’ stunning architecture — its exterior as well as its interior — and at the same time to be transported in time is something that an expert on its existence wouldn’t miss.

Found here is our first flag, a telegraph machine that dates to 1865 and a handmade canyon made of leather and brass (1869); this weapon had been used by the mambis to defend themselves from the Spanish army in the struggle for independence.

Also maintained there are flags, shields and weapons of the epoch in which Cuba was a Spanish colony, as well as furniture, decorations, china and accessories that belonged to various families since the beginning of the 19th century.  The accumulated possessions today, in addition to their patrimonial value, constitute works of art of invaluable value.

In the Plaza de Armas there are other sites of historical and cultural interest that I will deal with in subsequent entries.

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