There is no other place which shows more of the Havana’s soul, or attracts more locals and tourists than the long stretched Malecon. This sea boulevard crawls 7 km along the historical areas of the city, from the colonial center (Habana Vieja) through the boring (Russian) apartments of Vedado, if it is a resume of Havana’s history. There are a lot of very charming buildings along the busy street, but it’s the total thing what makes it interesting, in specific when the Bay of Habana is lightened by the sunset. For Habaneros the Malecon means tradition and religion, they bring offers to the Yoruba gods and throw it into the sea.
A walk along the ocean: The History of the Malecon
On the November 4 1901 American authorities who conquered Cuba started with the work on the Malecon, a with trees decorated walking boulevard which had to start at the Castillo de la Punta. Because of the strong wind and the rough sea they changed plans. The American architect Mead and the Frenchman Jean Forestier developed a better plan to deal with the wind and the sea. In 1902 they finished the music place in front of the Prado. At the old Habana Vieja (Old Havana) they built hotels and cafe’s, this all while the beach facilities had been concentrated at Miramar. In 1919 the Malecon already reached till Calle Belascoaín, and in 1921 till Calle 23. It was the fast road between the old and the newer part of Habana. Today it is partly restored, and still working on it, in its old function.
Along the Malecon you will see beautiful buildings from which their pastel colors paled by the sun and the salt of the sea, and early 20th century 2- or 3 story buildings with a veranda on top, all in a mixture of architecture.
Par example the Kariatide building; one of the most important buildings in the beginning of the Malecon. Build in the 20th century recently renewed and named by the women figures in Art-Deco Style under the veranda. Or the area between Prado and Calle Belascoain. They are still busy renewing this area (2004) Some very nice Casa Particulares and Paladares are located at the Malecon.
A walk along the Malecon will give you the real feeling you must get while visiting Habana. In specific at sunset the buildings get this magical touch when the sun shines on the old buildings. Also at night, lots of lovers kissing and hugging while looking at the sea. A meeting place for young people.
On stormy days the waves attack the seawall and you will see boys playing not to get slammed to the ground by the waves. These storms are inspiration for Santaria religious people, they consider it as the revange of the goddess Yemaya.
Many Cubans do fishing at the Malecon some by sitting on the seawall itself, others take their inner tube and go into the sea to catch their daily fish, dinner for tonight. At daytime kids enjoy the sea while playing games