Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolución)#6 in Best Things To Do in Havana
There is no better place for a crash course on the country's history than the Museo de la Revolución. The museum chronicles the life and times before the revolution as well as the leaders and events that led to Fidel Castro’s successful uprising. Artifacts displayed help visitors understand what was going on in the minds of the revolution fighters. Standout relics include blood-stained uniforms of the fallen from the Santiago de Cuba Moncada Barracks attack, maps that were used for navigation during the war and bullet holes from an attempted assassination of Fulgencio Batista, which is located in the building's main stairway. There are also areas dedicated to Che Guevara and Castro, and in front of the building the tank used by Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion is in full view.
But that's not all visitors should peruse. The building also oozes with interesting history of its own. The property used to be a palace that housed some of the country's most corrupt presidents, including Batista. Once Castro came to power, he quickly turned it into the museum that it is today.
Recent travelers were fascinated to learn the Cuban perspective of the revolution, something that Westerners aren't likely to see in their history books. Visitors also lauded the architecture of the former palace, which boasts interiors designed by Tiffany & Co. and a Room of Mirrors modeled after the Palace of Versailles. Some travelers said they regretted not reading up on Cuba's history before visiting the museum, while others were annoyed that few of the exhibits were in English. You can find the Museo de la Revolución on Avenida Bélgica, located a few blocks east of Old Havana's main thoroughfare, Paseo de Marti. Admission is 8 convertible pesos ($8) for adults and 4 convertible pesos ($4) for children. Photography is permitted, but you must pay an extra 2 convertible pesos ($2). The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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#1 El Malecón
To tourists, Old Havana may be the city's heart and soul, but to Cubans, it's El Malecón. Technically speaking, El Malecón is a 5-mile-long boulevard that stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and the edges of Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana on the other, depending on where you are. But metaphorically speaking, El Malecón is both a meeting point and place of refuge for locals looking to catch a breath of fresh air after a long day or night.
During the day, you're likely to see some residents along with a tourist or two, but at night, especially come sundown, is when you'll see flocks of Cubans holding loved ones close as they watch the sunset, crowds of young people laughing and drinking, fishermen waiting for a catch or even a small dance party. And sometimes, you may not see anybody at all. On particularly stormy days, waves crash up against El Malecón and much of the sea spills onto the roads, making for a great photo op.
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