Plaza de la Revolución#9 in Best Things To Do in Havana
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Of all the plazas that populate Havana, politicos can't miss this one. Plaza de la Revolución is proof that, despite recent lifted restrictions, Castro's Cuba is still very much alive. The plaza acts as the central location for many of the regime's branches of government, and features artwork and monuments honoring notable Cubans, including central figures involved in the revolution. The Ministry of Interior (or Ministerio del Interior) features a giant mural of Che Guevara, with the phrase, "Hasta la victoria siempre" ("Always toward victory") fashioned underneath. At the adjacent telecommunications building, there is a similarly styled image of Camila Cienfuegos, another famous revolution fighter, with the phrase, "Vas bien, Fidel" ("You're doing fine, Fidel") written underneath. There is also a monument to José Martí, Cuba's most famous writer who dedicated his life to fighting for independence in the pre-Castro era. Nearby is the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, Cuba's largest library, and the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, the country's most important theater.
Travelers shared mixed reviews of Plaza de la Revolución. Many visitors enjoyed their time at the plaza and were fascinated by the attraction's historical significance (Castro used to make speeches here). Others, however, found the square to be drab in comparison to Old Havana's colorful plazas and said the attraction isn't worth more than a quick hop off a bus tour. If you're hoping for a livelier experience, plan to visit on May 1 for the annual International Workers' Day celebration, where millions of Cubans congregate in Plaza de la Revolución to celebrate workers' achievements. Usually there are festivities as well as speeches made by top leaders, including one of the Castros.
Plaza de la Revolución is about 5 miles southwest of Old Havana in the Vedado neighborhood. This public square, which is free to explore, is open year-round and is best reached by taxi.
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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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