In a previous post I gave some history on the Museum of the Revolution and I thought this warranted some further photos from inside this former presidential palace and some practical tips for a visit.
Museum of the revolution (Museo de la Revolución)
Tickets cost CUC 8 per person, at time of writing, and for a further CUC 2 you can get a guided tour (English tours are available), however, there really is no need to have a tour, as the majority of the exhibits have English translations (it does help however, to have a little knowledge of Cuba’s history). Once you have your ticket you are required to hand in your bags, as no bags are allowed, however, cameras are allowed. There may be a little wait at this point as the museum only has so many bag tickets, so you may have to wait until someone comes to pick theirs up before you can hand your bag in (we only waited a few minutes before a ticket was available).
The museum descents chronologically from top to bottom, with the top floor also housing some art and a gift shop. I suggest you follow the signs to go up the stairs and start at the top and work your way down.
Revolutionary art on the 3rd floor
It was Governor General Aubert who, in 1909 decided that a new venue for the Provincial Government was needed. The original design did not include the tiled cupola and was added to the design at a later date.
The tiled cupola
In 1918 the building became the Presidential Palace when President Mario García Menocal took possession of it while it was still under construction. Construction was finally completed in January 1920 and the building was officially inaugurated.
The Carrara marble main staircase is not open to the public, but is wonderful to view from the bottom steps or from the third floor. It dominates the lobby and leads up to the second floor.
The Carrara marble staircase
The Salón de los Espejos is a replica of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles and was under renovation when we visited, so although we were not able to enter the salon, we still had a great view looking into it from the top floor.
The Hall of Mirrors (Salón de los Espejos), a replica of the Versailles original
The wall detail in the Hall of Mirrors (Salón de los Espejos)
The presidential office is another part of the building that you can only view from behind a barrier, but the room does give you a good idea what it may have looked like during its heyday.
The Presidential Office
The other side of the Presidential Office
One wonderful room that was open to us was the Salón Dorado (Golden Hall), which is made of plated yellow marble with gold embossing on the walls. Four canvases mounted on 18-carat gold sheets grace the walls.
The Golden Hall (Salón Dorado)
The former palace is an important part of Cuban history. From 1959 to 1965, after the revolution, it housed both the Government and the Council of Ministers, and in 1965 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba was formed here. In 1974 the presidential palace transitioned to the museum to the Cuban Revolution, two years later witnessing the approval of the 1976 Constitution, and in 2010 it was declared a national monument.
The Cuban flag on the inside court
Note that there are not many opportunities to sit down, so if this is important to you, be prepared that you may not get the chance to rest. I did find a vacant chair on the upper floor in one of the exhibit rooms, as did some others, and we all took the chance to take a rest and cool down, as the upper rooms were very hot indeed.
As you walk downstairs make sure you take a close look at the walls and you will find some bullet holes, a leftover from an assassination attempt in 1957 on the then president Batista.
The 2nd floor of the museum
The ground floor also contains a little bar (with fantastic aircon!) where you can get a mojito or some bottled water. After cooling down venture to the outside part of the museum, which amongst other items contains Castro’s yacht the Granman, which is housed in a glass building and can only be viewed from the outside.
Despite the fact that some of the exhibits could do with some better English translations, we thought it was well worth visiting this museum. We visited on a weekday in early May this year and did not find it overly busy. All in all I think we spent about 3 hours here and you could easily spent more time here.