Photo Feature by Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – Proclaimed a national monument, Havana’s Cristo is one of the city’s greatest attractions. If you sit down or walk along Avenida del Puerto, you can see it from different points.
The statue was the result of a promise made by Fulgencio Batista’s wife – Batista was president of Cuba in the ‘40s and ‘50s. She feared for her life after an attack on the Presidential Palace. She needed a Christ to bless the city and to protect her husband.
A call was made for all artists, and it was Jilma Madera’s proposal that was finally chosen.
The sculptor moved to Rome to oversee the work. It isn’t a single piece, but is made up of different Carrara marble blocks. El Cristo was blessed by Pope Pius XII before reaching the island and was inaugurated in 1958.
Being outside, it suffered physical damages to its structure, in 1961, 1962 and 1986, the first time because it didn’t have lightning rods; and later because of environmental pollution, that led to salt crust, stains and detachment.
In 2013, a rigorous study was carried out for its reconstruction. The team working on it were awarded the National Monument Conservation Award.
At 20 meters tall, and a 3 meter base, it displays all of its beauty. I have read that its sculptor designed him like a man, not like a supernatural figure.
The scorching sun shines over the statue for the most part of the day, but there are always visitors in the area regardless, taking pictures of him.
The panoramic view from this height is like a post card of Havana, with its wonders, overlooking its interior aspects, its poverty.
When I got there, a Chinese puppy caught my attention, who was chasing after the tourists as they walked around.
I tried to call him over to take a photo, but he ignored me. Until I was able to capture his funny look.
Getting to El Cristo isn’t difficult at all. On Avenida del Puerto, at the Emboque de Luz, the boat terminal, you take the one heading for Casablanca. The journey is only 9 minutes long.
It’s nice to enjoy the seascape, on your way there and back, seeing the buildings on both sides. While Casablanca is quite an ugly town, it’s interesting to see the little houses people have built on the hillside before reaching Cristo, many of them on sheer strips.
There are two paths to go up and come down, one is a long and steep staircase. The other skirts along the hill, surrounded by a stone wall, a circular path, which allows you to enjoy the distant landscape of the other shore, and the greenery of the plants.
Here’s some photos from my trip. I hope you’re able to go one day soon, to see this majestic icon in our city.