Posts Tagged With: architecture

Havana’s Buildings – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Havana’s buildings; if you have missed Part 1 just follow the link.

One of the things I photographed the most in Havana was its buildings; each one of them has something different to offer. The majority of the buildings are looking much worse for wear, but their former glory does shine through, whether it’s the little architectural touches, the large arches, cast iron balconies or just the vibrant colours; everywhere you look there is something wonderful to discover about each and every building and house you walk past.

The Malecón in Havana has some wonderful buildings (see my previous post for more of them), and this wonderful green highrise was just one of many that caught my eye.

Along the Malecón, Havana, Cuba

This building has some wonderful little details just above the arches.

Despite the state of the buildings, the former grandeur is shining through

I cannot remember where in Havana we came across this building, but I could not walk past without taking a photo; the colours are just so wonderfully vibrant.

The balconies remind me of Paris, but the colours are so Cuba!

And last but not least (for this post) this is the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba. It was built in 1930 and is a copy of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. In the 1940s the hotel and casino hosted the largest ever get-together of the North American Mafia, organised by US mobsters Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. They used the guise of a Frank Sinatra concert for their purposes; the event is depicted in the movie “The Godfather II”, but the actual scenes were filmed elsewhere.

The hotel has had famous guest throughout its history, from Fred Astair, Rita Hayworth to Walt Disney in the early days to Steven Spielberg and Leonardo Di Caprio in more recent times, as well as hosting a number of world leaders and diplomats, such a Vladimir Putin and former President Jimmy Carter.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana

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Havana’s Buildings – Part 1

There are so many amazing buildings in Havana, it is hard to just showcase a few, so this is Part 1 of a yet undetermined amount of parts.

Capitolio Nacional de Cuba

One of the most iconic buildings in Havana is the Capitolio Nacional, which was still being renovated when we saw it in May this year. It looks like the Capitol building in Washington, DC, but apparently is modeled on the Panthéon in Paris. It was built in 1926 and took 5,000 workers 3 years, 2 months and 20 days to construct. It used to be the seat of the Cuban Congress, in 1959 it became the home of the Cuban Academny of Sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology. In 2013 it closed and renovations started; it is scheduled to open sometime in 2018 and will then house the National Assembly of People’s Power, the legislative parliament of Cuba.

Museum of the Revolution
Museo de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba

The Museum of the Revolution is housed in the former presidential palace, which was built between 1913 and 1920 and used by a number of Cuban presidents. Tiffany’s of New York decorated the interior and it even has a Hall of Mirrors, based on the famous hall in the Palace of Versailles.

The museum tells the story of the events leading up to, during, and immediately after the Cuban revolution. It is told in English and Spanish, and we found it very interesting, albeit tinted with propaganda. The interior architecture is just as fascinating; the sweeping central staircase (closed to visitors) still retains the bullet holes made during an unsuccessful attack on the palace in March 1957 by a revolutionary student group intent on assassinating President Batista. In fact, bullet holes were to be seen in a number of walls all around the museum.

There are a number of exhibit-free rooms, some you can step into, others, like the president’s office where Fidel Castro was sworn in in 1959, you can admire from the doorway behind a barrier.

Also on show is SAU-100 tank, which was used by Castro during the 1961 Bay of Pigs battle and behind the museum you can look at Castro’s 18m yacht (a replica kept behind a glass cage) and a number of other vehicles, planes, and rockets. Overall, we enjoyed this museum and while it could be a little crowded around some of the exhibits and I would highly recommend a visit.

 

Gran Teatro de La Habana
Great Theatre of Havana

The Great Theater of Havana is home to Cuba’s National Ballet, unfortunately we did not see a performance during our visit (a good reason to visit Havana again!). The very first performance took place in 1837, with its formal inauguration the following year. However, the building you now see is not the original; which was torn down in 1908 and in 1985 it received its current name – The Great Theater of Havana.

Catedral de la Habana

Havana’s cathedral, Catedral de la Habana, was designed by Francesco Borromini, an Italian architect. Construction begun in 1748 and finished in 1787, it is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. The cathedral on the outside is dominated by its 2 unequal towers and framed by a baroque facade. The interior is neoclassical rather than baroque and fairly austere. The frescos above the altar are originals dating from the late 1700s, however, the paintings on the side walls are copies of originals by Murillo and Rubens. The smaller of the two towers can be climbed for a small charge. Entry is by donation and when we visited it was not busy at all and provided a nice, cool, and calming reprieve from the hustle and heat of the city’s streets.

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Tower of London View

It is no secret that I love the Tower of London, so here is another shot I took almost a year ago, which I just came across.

One of the things I really love about the Tower of London is the fact that it is home to a number of Warders and their families. Just imagine living there – my dream location!

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Gough Square, London

Gough Square in London is famous for being the location of Dr Samuel Johnson’s house. Dr Johnson in turn is famous for being the author of the first english dictionary. However, this is not a post about him or his house. Instead, this is a small glimpse of the other little corners and alleyways that exist around this area, which is just off Fleet Street.

Gough Square, London

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Doors

I came across these interesting looking doors in London.

A pretty door somewhere in Kensington

Another one with some pretty iron work, also in Kensington

I really was drawn to the door knocker on this one

A rather impressive looking door, shame about the dead plant!

I cannot remember where we came across this old door, but it’s safe to say it was on either an old church or another monument

The blue colour and lanterns did it for me on this one

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The Mews of London

One of the things I was really looking forward to was visiting some of the London Mews (you know, those little pretty streets made famous by the movie “Love Actually” in the scene where Keira Knightly opens the door to find Andrew Lincoln and some cue cards standing in the street). There are many of them in London, the one made famous by the movie is actually in Notting Hill – St Luke’s Mews; as this was somewhat out of the way given the plans we had made we visited some mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The mews are usually hidden away behind archways and you would never know that you are in busy London!

These houses were originally built in the 18th and 19th century to stable horses and provided accommodation above the stables for the servants. The houses sit on cobbled little streets which originally were service roads located behind grand Georgian and Victorian houses.

There was usually a tunnel under the garden connecting with the basement of the house, so servants could slip out to the stable without disturbing the residents. A curious feature of almost any mews house is that it has no windows at the back, so servants could not spy on their betters enjoying a stroll in the garden.

Most mews were utilitarian places, with hard-wearing cobbles and a drain down the middle to take away the waste from the horses.

 The reason they are called “mews” is not immediately obvious. Some research shows that they were named after the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which evolved from the Kings’ Mews, which goes back to Richard II (r. 1377-99). The royal hawks were kept at the King’s Mews from 1377, where the birds were confined at moulting time; mew meaning moulting. Up until the reign of Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) the Mews was at Charing Cross, at the western end of the Strand where today the National Gallery stands. The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as stables, keeping the name “Mews” when it acquired this new function.
So, after this little history lesson, here are some of my favourite photos I took of the iconic London Mews.
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The staircase

It is no secret to those of you that have followed me for a while that I love the New Town Hall in my hometown of Hannover in Germany. The building, inside and out, is just majestic. One of the great features are the spiral staircases, which are actually elliptical in shape. I love to photograph them whenever I am back there.

Staircase in the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Hannover, Germany

Staircase in the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Hannover, Germany

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Palace Rooms

A few photos of some of the amazing rooms of the Bückeburg Palace.

The Ball Room ceiling

The Ball Room ceiling

The Yellow Room

The Yellow Room

Stately room in Bückeburg Palace.

Stately room in Bückeburg Palace.

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Another castle shot

I couldn’t resist sharing another shot of Bückeburg castle. It is not a castle that is all that famous, although I think that needs to change as it is a beautiful palace.

Bückeburg Palace (Schloss), Lower Saxony, Germany

Bückeburg Palace (Schloss), Lower Saxony, Germany

 

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Another view

Here is another street view taken in Hameln (Hamelin), Germany,

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