OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Havana is being refurbished through a program undertaken by the Historian’s Office to prepare for the city’s 500th anniversary in 2019. Photo: Juvenal Balán

Havana reaches its 498th birthday more beautiful than ever, according to City Historian Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, speaking during a press conference held in the city’s central historic district.

The city is being rejuvenated, Spengler added, as part of an intense cultural program and a “perpetual” series of construction projects, undertaken by his office, in an effort to preserve the ancient city and return its historic importance and influence.

One of the works recently concluded was the remodeling of the Templete, the site where the city was refounded in 1519, and where tradition dictates that, every November 16, residents circle the kapok tree there three times, if their wishes are to come true.

The 1852 Pórtico, demolished in 1929-1930 to widen the Avenida del Puerto has also been restored. The door to O’Reilly Street now has the original coat of arms of the always loyal city of Havana. The canons, on the ready to defend the villa, are in place, and at this time, artisans are finishing the ironwork, Spengler reported.

Also announced in time for the anniversary was the inauguration of a new youth center in the central historic district, equipped with the most modern elements, so that Havana’s young residents can enjoy the art of filmmaking and radio broadcasting, learn to dance, and visit the library.

Also set to open its doors is a new information center and San Cristóbal travel agency office within the City Historian’s headquarters, to promote the island’s patrimonial cities and cultural tourism.

To be inaugurated as well are new expositions within the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, showcasing underwater treasures recovered over the years, and completely renovated museum halls within the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, on the Plaza de Armas.

These new exhibits seek to recreate colonial Havana for visitors, according to Orlando Inclán, the City Historian Office architect.

“We want to make this area an important archaeological center and are projecting that the work will be completed by the 500th anniversary of the city’s founding, this coming 2019,” he said.

Thus Eusebio Leal Splengler’s insistence that the city is being reborn more beautiful than ever, to which he added, “Come what may, hurricanes, winds, prohibitions, sieges, we will always be able to come through, break the wall, and move forward.”