Photo Feature by Nike and Ariel Glaria Enriquez
HAVANA TIMES — On an imaginary journey towards the east of Havana’s coastline on board an old fishermen’s boat, exactly where the rocky hill that closes off Havana Bay is lost on the horizon and the coast begins to be covered in coastal vegetation, appears Cojimar Tower, a small Renaissance fortress which was completed on July 15, 1649, and gave birth to the town which it owes its name to.
While boats made progress across the calm waters, we arrive at a small beach in the shape of a half-moon where the river and sea meet, after having passed an iron bridge which connects both of the river’s shores to the rustic pier where our journey through Cojimar begins.
The “oldest” part of the town, like people from Cojimar like to say, is without a doubt, the area closest to the famous Tower, Cojimar’s emblem. Just a few steps away from the Tower, in the small promenade lined with pine trees and their shadows, the bronze bust of Ernest Hemingway reminds visitors of the presence of this writer and his most famous work, The Old Man and the Sea, which was inspired by Cojimar and its people.
In front, the intense blue waters of the Gulf carry a breeze which makes the pine tree branches rustle before being trapped by the large covered doorways of tiles held up by aged columns, traces of a colonial past that continues to live on in the building style of its oldest buildings.
Urban expansion of the town at the turn of the 20th century, evident in the neoclassical elegance of the old Specialized Medical Center, later the Campo amor hotel built in 1907 – one of the most obvious ruins today – and other landmarks such as the Loma hotel, Quinta Aguada or the La Terraza restaurant where a healthy Hemingway made himself available to everybody. Don’t forget the beneficial waters of Poseta de los Curas, one of the most favorable places to bathe in the sea on the rough coast. And of course the town’s fishing tradition has also made Cojimar famous.
Cojimar reached it’s point of glory during the 1940s and 1950s. Then, the city’s main avenues were widened and paved. The town of Cojimar (as locals insist on calling it) became a neighborhood of Havana and an attractive place for modern tropical architecture to take root in the ‘50s and beginning of the ‘60s which reflected the breeze, sun and calm sea atmosphere of its surroundings.
Nevertheless, today, despite the threat to its preservation and history posed by the disorganized urban and population growth for over 30 years, Cojimar is still a place that visitors can easily fall in love with and a town where the loyal tide of the Gulf’s current will never leave it, just like the nostalgia of many generations of Cojimar residents.
NOTE: The aforementioned buildings, such as the Specialized Medical Center, are not the only ones that you can find today in Cojimar. As you can see in the photos, the domestic eclecticism of the first few decades of the 20th century and villa-style homes were also widespread trends. Photo captions for photos of modern architecture, refer to the period in the 1950s and early-1960s. Old photos (black and white) were downloaded from digital archives which do the rounds today on USB sticks and social media. The rest were taken by these Havana Times collaborators.
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