Emerging from the tunnel that connects El Vedado to the Miramar district, in this avenue it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to some other city far away. Quinta Avenida is striking in its beauty, built with ambitions to match the grandest residential areas in other great cities around the world. Many of its historic mansions are now foreign embassies, though these Quinta Avenida landmarks are just the top of the list.
Built in the early 20th century and originally termed the “Avenida de las Américas” (Avenue of the Americas), the ambitious goals for Havana’s Quinta Avenida were clear from the beginning. The architect responsible in large part for the avenue’s design was one John H. Duncan, one of the era’s most famous urban visionaries notable for designing Grant’s Tomb in New York City among other illustrious locales. The other was a Cuban by the name of Leonardo Morales, but make no mistake—this guy was no amateur either. A graduate of Columbia University in New York City, he also arrived with plans to recreate that city’s grandeur in his home country.
Prior to the Cuban Revolution, Quinta Avenida was home to many of Havana’s richest and most powerful citizens. The mansions lining the street reflected this—homes here have not just pools but pool houses, and at least one has upwards of 20 bathrooms on the property! Chief among these structures is the historic Casa Verde, perhaps the most iconic of all the street’s mansions.
This is not to say that Quinta Avenida is home to nothing but historic mansions, however. This stretch of road is also home to the massive Fuente de las Américas (Fountain of the Americas), a striking clock tower whose bells are said to mimic the sounds of Big Ben in London, and the largest Catholic place of worship in Cuba in the Jesus of Miramar Church. Additionally, Quinta Avenida is home to the now-called Isla del Coco theme park, originally inspired by New York’s Coney Island and going by the same name when it was first built. However after years of closure, the Cuban government recently decided to re-open it and it re-emerged with a more Cuban design and a new name inspired by popular Cuban cartoons. The avenue is also home to businesses including the Cuban offices of Virgin Atlantic and the Miramar Trade Center, while the central promenade is a popular spot for joggers and other exercisers.
After the Cuban Revolution, some of the country’s upper-class citizens fled the island and left their homes behind. The new government took ownership of these homes and gave them a new use. Today, many of the homes lining the avenue are still well-maintained as foreign embassies, while others have been converted into schools, nurseries, offices, and more.
If you’re looking for a peaceful oasis in the bustling city, this is it. Rent a classic car and get to know Quinta Avenida—you certainly won’t regret the experience.
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Although it has transformed considerably since its original construction in the late 18th Century, the Alameda de Paula in Havana is brimming with charm. This beautiful seaside walkway is fully lined with mature trees, benches, a fountain, and the domed Paula Church. When visitors are ready to take time away from other attractions, this can be one of the great places to sit down and pause for reflection.
The Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Plantation is one of Cuba's top tourist attractionsâhowever, you won't find any signs guiding you to its fields some 17 kilometres southwest of Pinar del Rio. Since it's a private enterprise, its plantation tours operate in something of a legal grey area; regardless, they come highly recommended. Though famed proprietor Alejandro Robaina passed away a few years ago, his farm continues to grow what is arguably the world's finest tobacco. Take a tour and find out why!
Havana's Avenida del Puerto (Port Avenue) may seem like a continuation of the Malecon, but technically it's a unique stretch of road. The best time of the day to take a walk here are early in the morning or at dusk. This is the sea promenade of Old Havana were fisherman, couples, and families gathered and were you can find a wide range of attractions.
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