Havana celebrates 500 years of foundation. Part I Capitolio. (pictures)







Cuba’s capital, Havana, celebrated 500 years of its foundation on 16 November. The city is one of Latin America’s architectural treasures, boasting a marvellous mix of colonial, Baroque and Art Deco styles. These are some of its most famous buildings and sights.


The Capitolio is one of the most visited sites in Havana. The building was built from 1926 to 1929 under the direction of Eugenio Rayneri Piedra. It is located on the Paseo del Prado, Dragones, Industria, and San José streets in the exact center of Havana.


The project began on April 1926, during the Gerardo Machado administration.









Prior to the triunph of Cuban´s Revolution in 1959, the Congress was in the building. After the parliament was dissolved so the building served as the headquarters of the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the Science Ministry. It has gone through major renovations in recent years to once again house the National Assembly.

«El Capitolio» has a size of 681 by 300 ft. Its design although it is often compared to that of the United States Capitol, it is not a replica of it.»It is similar to that in Washington D.C, but a meter higher, a meter wider, and a meter longer, as well as much richer in detail. Completed in 1929, it was the tallest building in Havana until the 1950s.

Under the cupola is the Statue of the Republic (La Estatua de la República), the world’s third largest indoor statue. The statue, was cast in bronze in Rome in three pieces and assembled inside the building after its arrival in Cuba. It is covered with 22 carat (92%) gold leaf and weighs 49 tons. A Creole Cuban, Lily Valty served as the model for the body for Zanelli, and the inspiration for the statue came from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Statue of the Republic

To either side of the main hall is the Salón de Pasos Perdidos (Hall of Lost Steps), named for its acoustic properties.

Salón de Pasos Perdidos (Hall of Lost Steps)

The diamond in El Capitolio marking the Cuban Kilometre Zero
Embedded in the floor in the centre of the main hall is a replica 25 carat (5 g) diamond, which marks Kilometre Zero for Cuba. The original diamond, said to have belonged to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and have been sold to the Cuban state by a Turkish merchant, was stolen on 25 March 1946 and mysteriously returned to the President, Ramón Grau San Martín, on 2 June 1946.






The diamond in El Capitolio






The diamond in El Capitolio



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