· Appreciate the undervalued cultural nooks of Havana
· Imagine yourself a Cuban in the Museo 28 Septiembre
· Learn about the religion of Santeria at the Casa de Africa
· Enjoy coins and cards at the Museo Numismático and the Museo de Naipes
· Appreciate classic cars at the Museo del Automóvil
The Old City of Havana has much to offer the curious traveller but, even though Cuba is becoming increasingly popular as a destination each year, the city retains a staunchly independent soul. Go with your personal tour seeing everything from cars to cards on a brief trip to some of these cultural spots.
Coins and Committees
Cuba might have followed its own economic path since the 1950’s but Havana’s banking past remains evident in the Museo Numismático. Built in the late 19th century, the building hosts a selection of artefacts – from lottery tickets 1000 American gold coins– that show Cuba’s financial history over the centuries. Formerly occupied by the Monte de Piedad Bank, it now reportedly has the ghostly presence of a white-clothed woman wearing colonial dress.
Going across the street with take you to the Museo 28 Septiembre. Celebrating the Comites de la Defensa de la Revolución, it highlights the role which these neighbourhood-based groups play in modern Cuba.
Cars, Cards and Orishas
Stepping inside the Casa de Africa brings you into touch with Cuba’s own Afro-Cuban religion: Santeria. With roots going back to the island’s slave plantations, this religion based on the beliefs of Africans before they were taken across the ocean. Escaping persecution by synchronising its divinities – who mediated between humans and the creator-god Olofi – with Christian saints, it now has a strong presence on the ostensibly atheist island most of its practitioners call home.
Although Havana is now well-known for the classic cars imported before the 1950’s Revolution, the Museo del Automóvil shows the best of the best. Displaying 50 vehicles, dating from 1905 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is also an impressive collection of Harley Davidsons for motorcycle lovers.
A short walk with your guide takes you to the Museo de Naipes, your guide will help you pore through a stupendous collection holding over 2000 sets of playing cards, as well as some printing machines used to make them.