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|Havana’s history starts at Havana Bay, south of the Florida Keys. In the 1500s, galleons from all over the hemisphere dropped anchor in this deep, natural bay and it fast became a transshipment point for merchandise on its way to Europe, especially Spain. Havana was officially founded in 1519 as San Cristóbal de la Habana, in homage to her patron saint.
Over the centuries, the city fanned out from the bay to the west and south. As the city prospered, it gave way to new homes and neighborhoods and the city started to take on its unique shape and flavor.
Palaces and mansions were built in a colonial baroque style, interspersed with examples of neoclassicism, followed by Art Deco. Theaters were erected, as well as train stations and public buildings, all to better meet the needs of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie of the time.
Today, Havana is a colorful, eclectic city, moving to its own rhythmic pace. Every street transmits a memory, each building a story. Colonial mansions have been transformed into stylish boutique hotels, while private restaurants provide enticing gastronomical possibilities. Chevrolets and Buicks – some dating as far back as the 1930s – still chug along the seafront boulevard. Pedestrian streets winding through the old town encourage long, meandering walks and there’s no shortage of bars (some favorite Hemingway haunts) for taking a cocktail or two. And don’t forget the music and dance; in the streets, cabarets, nightclubs and discotheques – Havana is always moving and shaking.