Palacio Del Valle

Seen by some as the pearl of Cienfuegos, known itself as the Pearl of the South, the Palacio del Valle is a kitsch pastiche of decorative styles from North Africa through Europe to India and back again. Featuring a museum, bar and restaurant, it's a 'must-see' in Cienfuegos, not least for the views out across the bay (if architecture's not your thing).

Looking, on approach, like an over-ornate cake from a celebrity wedding, Palacio de Valle is architecturally quite unlike anything else in the whole of Cuba, let alone modest little Cienfuegos!
Businessman Don Acisclo del Valle, a Spaniard from Asturias, bought the plot at the end of Calle 37 and began construction in 1913. The project was overseen by an Italian architect, Alfredo Colli and foreman Juan Suarez. Building was completed in 1917 after the input of masons and craftsmen of several nationalities. (There is even a quote from the Koran inscribed by a Muslim artisan in one of the kitchens). It costs a million and half pesos of that time.
Palacio de Valle is often referred to as an example of neo-gothic architecture. In truth, however, the building combines just about every contemporary architectural style possible. Drawing heavily on Moorish influences, you'll spot stucco arches and colonnaded passageways that wouldn't look out of place in Marrakech. The marble sphinx either side of the front door give an allusion of the grandeur to which del Valle thought he should become accustomed. The marble and wrought metal staircase is worthy of a sweep of a high society ball gown, while the mosaic designs of heraldic shields and knights are positively medieval-looking. The sewing room features Japanese influences, while the back of the house and the gardens were modelled on the Alhambra. Finally, the cement floor tiles and over the top chandeliers look more like they originated in Victorian England.
Palacio de Valle divides its visitors: Arabian Nights fantasy, or hideously kitsch fun palace? The decision is yours!
Palacio de Valle today
Before he was deposed by the revolution, Batista planned to convert Palacio de Valle into a casino, presumably to spread the benefits of American tourism beyond the capital, Havana.
Today, the building is used as a museum, events and cultural centre and has a bar and terrace restaurant.
The setting is certainly striking - from the roof terrace there are panoramic views out over the Bahia de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Bay) and back over the city known as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South).

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Azucar Lounge

Azucar Lounge

Overlooking one of Havana's most historic plazas, the Azucar Lounge cocktail and tapas bar certainly has an enviable location. Additionally, its food and drink options don't disappoint either—classic Cuban cocktails abound, and some say that these are the best piña coladas in all of Havana. Featuring contemporary style right on the Plaza Vieja, the Azucar Lounge is one of the top bars in Havana, Cuba.

Bar Restaurant Salon 1851

Bar Restaurant Salon 1851

With its exposed brickwork, high ceilings and centuries-old feel, visiting Bar Restaurante Salon 1851 in Trinidad is like being whisked back in time. Situated just next door to the Palenke de Los Congos Reales, it's a restaurant that possess a unique and authentic atmosphere that stays true to the spirit of Cuba's traditional roots.

Bistro Habana-Kohly

Bistro Habana-Kohly

The Bistro Habana-Kohly is appropriately located in the Kohly neighbourhood of Havana's upscale Miramar municipality, and though the food isn't strictly French, the restaurant maintains the feel of a small and cosy Parisian cafe-eatery. Popular for both its outdoor dining terrace and its intimate, air-conditioned indoor dining room, the Bistro Habana-Kohly serves up fine international cuisine with French and Cuban touches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without a doubt, this is a top restaurant in Havana, Cuba.

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