t Havana’s Barrio Chino bathed in golden sunlight
Experience Centro Habana and Prado
Centro Habana has the air of an impoverished aristocrat – a noble creature whose threadbare clothes belie a splendid past full of treasures. This varied quarter developed beyond La Habana Vieja’s city walls (which ran parallel to present-day Avenida Bélgica and Avenida de las Misiones) during the 1800s and was initially built to provide housing and greenery for the citizens. Most of the construction in the area took place after 1863, when the walls began to be demolished to make more land available. The work was finally completed in the 1920s and 30s, when French architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier landscaped the area of the Paseo del Prado, the Parque Central, the Capitolio gardens and Parque de la Fraternidad.
The building of the Capitolio here shows the area’s status in the early 20th century, but by the 1950s affluent families were evacuating the area for Miramar and Vedado. When the Cuban-Soviet partnership collapsed in the 1990s the buildings continued to deteriorate, but restoration work is gathering pace and luxurious new hotels are springing up in the area.