Havana’s Capitol: former government palace and today a museum.

by Jose Mauricio Maurette

One of the most astonishing buildings in Havana is The Capitolio. Since it was built in the 1930’s is has become jewel of the Cuban architecture and the pride of the locals and the joy of the tourists.

In the area that today is occupied by The Capitol building, there was a swamp before, cleaned and transformed into what was known as the first and only Botanical Garden in Cuba in the Nineteenth Century.

The development project of the Capitol did not begin until 1926 due to a great deal of political instability and complexity of the project it self. Once it started it only took 3 years to be finished into the same shape that visitors can admire today.

The imposing edifice opened its 20 feet doors to the public on Thursday May 20. Every government institution was invited to the unveiling ceremony including the President of the Republic of Cuba and other prestige politic personalities of those times.

The group that took part in the planning of the construction of the Capitol was also joined together by engineers and Cuban architects under the capable hands of Eugenio Raynieri Piedra of a renowned architected famous for his artistic designs. The total cost of the project reached the 17 million dollars.

To any pedestrian, the dome of the Capitol of Havana can easily draw his/her attention, fifth in the world of Renaissance style that, for its proportions and silhouettes, it remembers to San Pedro’s Basilica, in Rome . The dome is the second higher point of the city, preceded by the Monument to Mart in the Revolution Square.

A further detail that captivates everyone is the central piazza, which is escorted by 17 ionic columns of granite and in its facade; the three huge mahogany doors that give access to the main floor all three decorated with engraving recalling events of the history of Cuba.

It has been about eight decades since the Capitol building was finished in Cuba. It stands out for its monolithic construction considered among the three most important in Latin America and no doubt about it the most impressive building in Cuba.

There is a huge gem stone embedded on its floor marking the Kilometer No 0 of The National High Way that was also finished together with this building and today it can be admire by everyone who visit it. This huge diamond also separates the two wings on each side of the hall under the dome.

The statue of the Republic of Cuba, inspired in the Havanan model Lily Vlty, has the third place in the world of the highest sculptures indoors. It was installed in 1929, in the room of the Lost Steps (Saln de los Pasos Perdidos). It was made by Angelo Zanelli who also used this model to sculpt the statues of the central piazza.

Visiting the Capitol of Havana is just an amazing trip to the past. It was built to resemble the one in the United States, but in its rooms you will find a lot of history hidden behind its columns. Your vacation will be complete when you experience this visit. Do not miss the chance.

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