Did you know that on November 16 of this year Havana turns 500 years old? Half a millennium of history that obviously we cannot tell you in an entry in our blog but, how about we give you an express summary so you don´t miss the most important details of the history of the city?
Well, it all started on November 16, 1519 when the Spanish Diego Velázquez found the sixth town on the island of Cuba named San Cristóbal de La Habana. The first mass and first town hall celebrated in the city was in the recognized Plaza de Armas. In the middle of the century, fortresses such as the Castillo del Morro or the Castillo de la Real Fuerza were built, helping to protect the nascent city of pirates and buccaneers.
The importance of Havana was growing and finally in 1592 King Felipe II of Spain granted him the title of city. So much was the prosperity that even the English fought against Spain to get the control of the capital, although in 1763 they reached an agreement and finally the Spaniards kept it.
Already in the middle of the 19th century, the first Spanish railway was built on the island, linking Havana with Güines for the transportation of sugar and tobacco. This was the golden century for the city when most theaters, mansions and buildings were built and remain till our days; but it´s also the time when feelings of independence were born, so that in the same nineteenth century two wars broke out.
Later, at the end of the century, “Maine” American ship exploded in the port of Havana, beginning the war against the United States of America. After the Spaniards withdraw from the island, the United States controls the government and it is during this time that luxurious hotels and casinos are built embellishing the city. Finally in 1959 the Cuban revolution triumphed and here we are, years later and about to celebrate 500 years of stories, wars, culture and idiosyncrasy.